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Consumer Alert:

08/04/2004

CFO GALLAGHER RENEWS WARNING: FLORIDIANS MUST BE VIGILANT AGAINST BOGUS INSURANCE OFFERS

Man arrested for luring pregnant women to buy fraudulent insurance

 

CONTACTS: DFS Press Office
(850) 413-2842
TALLAHASSEE-At least 150 pregnant women were lured into buying bogus health insurance by a man not even licensed to sell insurance, prompting Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today to issue a renewed warning to Floridians to be vigilant against unauthorized insurance scams.

"Before buying any insurance product, it is absolutely critical that consumers verify that both the agent and the product are licensed," Gallagher said. "Unauthorized insurance scams are spreading into every line of coverage, and due diligence is the only line of defense."

Gallagher oversees the Florida Department of Financial Services, which since February 2001 has shut down more than 200 unauthorized entities, marketers, third-party administrators and agents selling fake insurance in Florida. The most recent action came late last week when investigators with the department's Division of Insurance Fraud arrested Angel Alcedes Golindano, 39, of Orlando, on numerous felony charges for his role in a three-year insurance fraud scheme that targeted pregnant women.

Golindano lured the women into the scheme through magazine advertisements and booths at health fairs, investigators said. Typically, the women paid $1,200 up front and an average of $2,000 during the pregnancy. It was understood that the policy would expire upon the birth of the child.

Investigators said Golindano never purchased real coverage for the women. Instead, he altered their insurance applications to make it appear that they were employees of one of two shell companies he operated. The women were then placed on a group health policy, allegedly obtained through fraudulent means, purchased for the shell companies. Av-Med Inc. paid out nearly $900,000 on claims Golindano filed totaling more than $2.3 million. Investigators believe Golindano pocketed as much as $80,000 he collected from fees the women paid.

Golindano is charged with two counts of grand theft, two counts of insurance fraud and one count of organized scheme to defraud. If convicted on all counts, he could face as many as 10 years in prison. He currently remains in the Orlando County Jail awaiting extradition to Miami-Dade County, where he allegedly conducted the scheme from February 1999 to June 2002.

The women, almost all from South Florida, told investigators they did not know they were being listed as employees and that they had contacted Golindano because they were unemployed and in need of coverage to cover their pregnancies.

The Division of Insurance Fraud was assisted in the investigation by the Miami- Dade County State Attorney's Office, Economic Crimes Unit, and Av-Med's Special Investigative Unit.

As part of Gallagher's ongoing efforts to stop the proliferation of unauthorized insurance activities, he has filed administrative actions against the licenses of nearly 100 agents, who are being ordered to pay unpaid claims or lose their licenses. Most are agreeing to pay the unpaid claims and serve a probationary period.

Anyone who believes they have purchased unauthorized insurance should visit the department's web site at www.fldfs.com , where all actions against entities or agents are posted, or call the department's toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762.