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CFO Sink: Three Arrested after Preying on Seniors in Insurance Fraud Scheme

4/22/2009

CONTACT:  Kyra Jennings or Jayme O’Rourke
                  (850) 413-2842      

Arrests Underscore Need to Better Protect Florida’s Seniors from Financial Fraud
 
TALLAHASSEE—Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today announced the arrests of three individuals who allegedly solicited auto body work from elderly victims in parking lots to obtain personal information, then assumed the victims’ identities and filed fraudulent insurance claims totaling approximately $50,000.  The arrests underscore the need for better financial protection for Florida’s seniors, which is the top priority of CFO Sink’s “Safeguard our Seniors” initiative.
 
Upon receiving information from the Nationwide Insurance Company and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) revealed that approximately 26 fraudulent car crashes involving the suspects were documented in Palm Beach County.  Corey Blue Petro, 22, Rickie S. Petro, 42, and Eda Siganoff, 43, have been charged with racketeering, grand theft, fraudulent use of personal identification information and insurance fraud.  If convicted, the suspects could face up to 75 years behind bars.
 
“From annuity fraud to cases like this one, each year my
department investigates hundreds of bad actors who prey on seniors to take advantage of them financially,” said CFO Sink. “Better financial protections for Florida’s seniors and tougher consequences for those who defraud our seniors demand our immediate attention and is a priority for me.”
 
During the last 12 months, CFO Sink’s department has opened nearly 500 administrative cases on financial fraud committed against seniors. She created the Safeguard our Seniors Task Force – www.FLSeniors.net – to develop solutions to better protect Florida seniors from falling victim to financial fraud.
 
The Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud, a sworn law enforcement agency, made over 800 insurance fraud-related arrests in the last fiscal year. Insurance fraud in Florida has been estimated to cost the average Florida family as much as $1,400 a year.  The Department of Insurance Fraud 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.