Volume 5 Number 12
March 21, 2008

CFO SINK: SOUTH FLORIDA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO PIP FRAUD; SENTENCED TO 4½ YEARS IN PRISON

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the conviction of a Miami-Dade County man on Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud charges.

Wilfred Cyriaque, 57, pled guilty to involvement in a staged accident ring in South Florida last week and was sentenced to 54 months in prison, followed by five years of reporting probation. As a condition of his plea agreement, he was also ordered to pay restitution of $329,366 to the following insurance companies: Allstate, Direct General, State Farm, Bristol West, Illinois National/AIG and Budget Rent-A-Car.

“Insurance fraud costs us all more, and we will aggressively investigate anyone suspected of defrauding others,” CFO Sink said. “I commend our investigators for their work on this case and encourage their continued pursuit of criminals who take advantage of others by committing insurance fraud.”

Cyriaque was the suspected ringleader of a 24-person staged accident ring, and in 2005 was charged with 51 counts each of insurance fraud and grand theft, four counts of staging an accident, and organized scheme to defraud. Investigators believe Cyriaque may have staged as many as 90 crashes.

The charges stem from investigations by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), a sworn statewide law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation of insurance fraud. DIF made more than 800 insurance fraud-related arrests in the last fiscal year.

Insurance fraud in Florida has been estimated to cost Floridians as much as $1,400 a year for the average Florida family. The DIF investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Depending on the estimated loss amount, the department will pay up to $25,000 for information directly leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information about this or any other suspected insurance fraud is asked to call the department's Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud. Complaints can be tracked online.