Dear Fellow Floridians:
Florida is known for our tourism industry, our beautiful beaches and
world-class attractions, but during tough economic times it is more
important than ever that we diversify our economy. Over the past five
years we have worked to attract intellectual capital to our state
through high-wage jobs in the life sciences - Scripps, Torrey Pines, Draper Laboratory, SRI International and
Sanford-Burnham, to name a few.
week, I toured the Claro Scientific facility in St. Petersburg, a
medical device research company working with the University of South
Florida to develop a medical device that produces results from blood
tests in five minutes or less. This new product is being tested in
Africa with malaria cases. Innovative businesses such as Claro
Scientific boost our economy and are developing technologies that better
the lives of Floridians and people around the world.
While at the university, I met with leaders to discuss the marine
industry and its impact on Florida’s economy. Finding new ways to use
Florida’s natural resources to attract new and exciting business
ventures needs to be a priority for all of Florida’s leaders.
These are two excellent examples of how Florida is looking to the
future and working hard to attract new capital to our state. We will
always be known for our beautiful beaches, but we can also be known
around the world as a place for innovation, new ideas and for businesses
to thrive. Diversifying our economy will ensure stable economic health
for the long term.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Fraud Work Group Meets
Thursday, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater opened the first
meeting of the Money Service Business Workers’ Comp Fraud Work Group. At
the Aug. 2 Cabinet meeting, CFO Atwater announced the creation of the
work group to review the practices of certain bad actors in the check
cashing services industry aiding in workers’ compensation premium fraud,
which is putting pressure on rates and crippling the business community.
The work group heard presentations from the CFO’s Division of
Insurance Fraud, the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor and the Special
Investigations Unit for FCCI Insurance Group, one of the largest writers
of workers’ compensation insurance in Florida. The next meeting will be
held Sept. 8, and will include presentations from the check cashing and
This fall, CFO Atwater will present the groups finding and solutions
to the Governor and Cabinet, and legislative partners.
For more information about the work group or to report fraud, please
Hurricane Irene a Reminder to Be Prepared
we watch Hurricane Irene making a close sweep along Florida’s shores,
it’s a vivid reminder to make sure you have a financial plan in place to
protect your family, home and business.
Make sure your homes and businesses are protected with the Department
of Financial Services’ Homeowner Toolkit, available along with other
storm preparation tips at www.MyFloridaCFO.com. In addition to the
toolkit, the department’s Web site contains information on how to file
an insurance claim, get answers to frequently asked insurance questions,
and disaster preparedness guides in both English and Spanish.
CFO Atwater offers the following tips to help Floridians prepare for
an approaching storm:
- Withdraw enough money for three to five days, as power outages and closures
can limit your access.
- Make sure prescriptions for all family members are filled.
- Take important financial papers with you in a waterproof container if you
- Gather copies of your household inventory and other documentation.
- Write down the names, addresses and claims-reporting telephone numbers of
your home and auto insurance companies.
More information regarding disaster-related insurance topics is
available on the Department’s Disaster Response page at
www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Consumers/Storm or by calling
Arrest in Accident Clinic Money Scheme
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced on Thursday the arrest of
Hillsborough County resident, Juan C. Borras, 55, an employee of
American Best Clinic, LLC, on charges of intentionally structuring large
cash withdrawals to avoid reporting or registration required by Florida
law. This tactic has been linked as a common practice for automobile
accident clinics suspected of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud.
“This type of scheme is often at the heart of a larger PIP fraud ring that
costs Florida drivers millions of dollars in higher insurance premiums,” said
CFO Atwater. “My department will continue to crack down on these types of
practices and put these fraudsters behind bars.”
An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of
Insurance Fraud, into American Best Clinic in Tampa revealed that Borras
intentionally structured 31 large cash withdrawals from a clinic bank account in
a nine-month period for a total of nearly $260,000 in withdrawals, a first
degree felony under Florida law.
Borras was booked into Hillsborough County jail Tuesday and released on bond.
If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison. Doe Rivera, 36, a
co-conspirator and employee of American Best Clinic, is currently being sought
on similar charges, involving nearly $1.8 million, and a warrant for his arrest
has been issued.
In an effort to develop policy ideas to combat PIP fraud, Florida’s Insurance
Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott, appointed by CFO Jeff Atwater, has formed a
PIP working group. Representatives from the Florida House of Representatives and
the Florida Senate, and various stakeholders in the PIP system are working
together to formulate real solutions in response to the escalating rates that
are burdening Florida’s consumers.
Anyone with information about this or any other incidents of suspected
insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Individuals who provide tips
can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for
information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance
fraud scheme. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost
$250,000 to approximately 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.
Fraud Team Busts Accident Clinic Operator
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the Division of Insurance Fraud on Wednesday arrested Hialeah accident clinic operator Daysi Puigros on more than 30 felony counts stemming from allegations that she filed more than $200,000 in fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims using the name of a deceased doctor.
Puigros used her clinic, Better Life Medical Center LLC, to submit physical evaluations allegedly performed by Juan Julio Hernandez Pombo, a doctor who she knew had died. She is charged with 15 counts of insurance fraud, 15 counts of grand theft (3rd degree), one count of operating a clinic without a license and one count of an organized scheme to defraud.
“I have no tolerance for masterminds of these types of egregious crimes,” said CFO Atwater. “We need to look at tightening laws and reforming PIP in Florida so our citizens don’t have to foot the bill for these outrageous schemes.”
Puigros owned the clinic from late 2007, until it was dissolved in late 2009. Sworn statements indicate that employees of the clinic knew the doctor had died, but Puigros continued to use his name for reports and billing and instructed the employees to do so as well. Employees were also told to make patients sign blank forms which were then fabricated by Puigros in order to fraudulently bill for medical services never rendered.
Puigros never applied for or received a license to operate the clinic, as indicated by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), nor had she applied for a license with the Department of Health (DOH). It is a third degree felony to operate without a license. Puigros was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail and released after posting a $160,000 bond.
In an effort to develop policy ideas to combat PIP fraud, Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott, appointed by CFO Jeff Atwater, will be forming a PIP working group to help formulate solutions in response to the escalating rates burdening Florida’s consumers, especially in urban areas.
Anyone with information regarding suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Individuals who provide tips can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $250,000 to approximately 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.