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CFO Sink Busts Social Security Fraud Ring During Statewide Sting

3/2/2010

CONTACT: Kevin Cate or Jennifer Hirst, 850-413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE- Florida CFO Alex Sink today announced a statewide sweep of individuals utilizing fraudulent social security cards to gain employment in Florida, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Ten arrests have been made in the sweep, and additional arrests are pending. The suspects are accused of utilizing two social security numbers, one belonging to an Orlando resident.
 
"This is a local, state, and national security issue," said CFO Alex Sink. "These arrests send a clear message to criminals dealing with stolen social security numbers that we are serious about this type of fraud in Florida, and will also help the victims begin putting their lives back together."
 
CFO's Sink's Division of Insurance Fraud's (DIF), West Palm Beach Office discovered the suspects after following up on a 2007 investigation in which the division assisted local law enforcement in locating a fugitive. The initial joint investigation ended in the arrest and conviction of 26 criminals utilizing just one fraudulent social security number. Three years later, CFO Sink Detective Paul Sennett proactively reopened the investigation, only to find that the same social security number was once again being fraudulently utilized by dozens of individuals.
 
The Division of Insurance Fraud has issued Probable Cause affidavits and CFO Sink initiated the statewide sweep last week, dubbed "Operation Dicey Numbers." Suspects currently reside in Alachua, Broward, Flagler, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Martin, Palm Beach, and Sarasota Counties.
 
The following individuals have recently been arrested as part of the statewide sweep: Andres Gonzalez, Carmen Gonzalez, Jorge Martinez and Omar Olmedo-Ramirez, Pablo Hernandes of Broward County; Norma Mendez, Ubilio Montejo and Alejandro Lux, of Palm Beach County; Mario Hernandez and German Ramirez of Miami-Dade County.
 
Each individual will be charged with FS. 440.105(4) (b) 9 workers' compensation fraud, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. If it is determined that any of these criminals knew the social security number belonged to another individual, they can also be arrested for identity theft; which, depending on the monetary benefit gained from the use of the stolen identity, ranges from a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to a felony of the first degree, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
 
CFO Sink's Division of Insurance Fraud made over 830 insurance fraud-related arrests in the last fiscal year, and investigates various forms of insurance fraud relating to health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance policies.  Depending on the estimated loss amount, the Department of Financial Services 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 www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud.
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