CFO Sink Announces Arrests of Four for Staged Auto Accident in Miami
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 27, 2009 CONTACT: Kyra Jennings or Jennifer Hirst, (850) 413-2842
CFO SINK ANNOUNCES ARRESTS OF FOUR FOR STAGED AUTO ACCIDENT IN MIAMI
TALLAHASSEE – Florida CFO Alex Sink today announced the arrests of four individuals in Miami who allegedly staged a motor vehicle accident and filed approximately $60,000 in fraudulent claims for false injuries. The arrests are the result of an investigation by the CFO Sink’s Division of Insurance Fraud after receiving information from Geico and Progressive insurance companies questioning claim submissions.
Cheila Barbara Suarez Socorro, 20, Ignacio Centeno, 22, Juan Lahera, 68, and Hendry Primelles, 27, have been charged with staging an accident, insurance fraud and grand theft. If convicted, all four suspects could face up to fifteen years in prison. Additional arrests are pending.
“Especially in these tough economic times, our insurance fraud investigators are seeing an increase in dishonest opportunists desperate for quick cash,” said CFO Sink. “Arrests like these send a strong message that insurance fraud will not be tolerated in Florida.”
On March 2, 2009, an accident was reported to the Miami Police Department, and all parties involved led the police to believe the crash was unintentional. It was later discovered that Primelles and Lahera were recruited to witness a crash by organizers Centeno and Suarez Socorro, who told them they would be compensated for their participation. Following the crash, approximately $60,000 in fraudulent claims were filed with Geico and Progressive insurance companies for the alleged injuries sustained in the accident.
The Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) made over 800 insurance fraud-related arrests in the last fiscal year, and investigates various forms of insurance fraud, 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 CFO Sink’s Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or visit to www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud