Volume 5, No. 11 - November 2016

News You Can Use

- Updating you on what's going on

Unlicensed Miami Insurance Agent Charged with 72 Felony Counts and
Stealing more than $48,000 in Escrow Payments

The Florida Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) Division of Investigative and Forensic Services announced the recent arrest of George Garcia, 69, following his alleged unlicensed insurance activity that resulted in the theft of at least $48,507 in escrow payments from 10 unsuspecting South Florida homeowners.

In response to alleged criminal activity in 2014, Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation issued a cease and desist order to Garcia, his ex-wife Dayami Quetgles, and their companies: Scottsdale Property and Casualty Insurance, Inc., C.I.S., Colony Insurance, and Payless LLC.

DFS’ Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services discovered Garcia was continuing to conduct insurance-related business in Florida without the required licenses. Garcia was found to have submitted numerous fake insurance certificate forms to financial institutions across South Florida in an alleged effort to obtain homeowners’ insurance escrow funds. Garcia instructed the banks to make the escrow checks payable to his illegitimate businesses that were later discovered to be connected to a post office box owned and controlled by Garcia. Records show the stolen checks were then collected and deposited into Garcia’s bank account.

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CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Record-Breaking Unclaimed Property Returns

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced that the Florida Division of Unclaimed Property, which operates under the direction of the CFO and the Department of Financial Services, completed another record-breaking month of returns in October. During October, the Division processed and paid more than $33 million in claims. Nearly 58,000 claims were processed and the resulting funds were returned back to the rightful owners. The previous highest month on record with $32.1 million returned was February 2016.

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NAIC Introduces National Life Insurance Policy Locator

Locator goes nationwide to help consumers find lost life insurance policies, annuities

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 22, 2016) —The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) today announced a national service that provides consumers with search capabilities to help them find a deceased person's lost life insurance policies and annuities.

The NAIC's Life Insurance Policy Locator provides nationwide access for assistance with finding life insurance policies and annuities. An estimated $1 billion in benefits from life insurance policies are unclaimed, according to Consumer Reports. The new tool builds on the life insurance policy locator programs developed separately in a number of states before this launch.

"Our locator gives consumers the means to easily search for lost life insurance policies. This national tool gives families and consumers a genuine time-saving option when trying to get their financial affairs in order," said John M. Huff, NAIC President and Missouri Insurance Director. "This locator leverages NAIC technology to help consumers collect what was promised by insurance contracts."

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Duo to Serve Time for South Florida Investment Scam

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) announces the sentencing of Abraham Shraga Gutterman for his role in a fraudulent precious metals and stock offering scheme. Gutterman was sentenced on October 27, 2016, by a federal court in Miami to serve 55 months of incarceration followed by 24 months of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $605,900 in restitution to the victims. Gutterman has been held in Miami without bond since he was first arrested in June 2016 by Panamanian authorities due to an outstanding international arrest warrant issued by the United States Department of Justice.

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Office Files Notice of Appeal in Workers’ Compensation Court Case

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) has filed a Notice of Appeal with the First District Court of Appeal in the Fee v. National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI)/Office court case. This action comes in response to a court order issued on November 23, 2016, which invalidated the 14.5% overall combined statewide average rate increase approved by the Office on October 5, 2016. Based on the Office filing its Notice of Appeal, the order is stayed pursuant to Rule 9.310(b)(2), Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure. The increase is scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016 and apply to both new and renewal workers’ compensation insurance policies in Florida.

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