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CFO Atwater's Division of Insurance Fraud Arrests Duval County Man on Multiple Charges for Avoiding Workers' Compensation Premiums

1/26/2011

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of David Rodriguez-Socarras, 49, a Duval County man who allegedly created a "shell" company and fictitious name in order to cash nearly $3 million in payroll checks through a money service business to avoid workers' compensation premiums and payroll taxes.
 
Socarras is facing multiple felony charges, including application fraud, workers' compensation fraud, criminal use of personal identification information, fraudulent application for a Florida driver’s license or ID card, and possession of a fraudulent Florida driver’s license or ID card, and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on all charges. He was booked on Monday into the Duval County Jail with bond set at $300,000.
 
“Unlawful acts, such as these, hurt honest business owners, our state's economy and Floridians who bear the cost of these crimes,” said CFO Atwater.  “I am determined to commit all possible resources to uncovering and stopping these crimes and ensuring our workers have the coverage they need to be protected on the job.”
 
The violations were uncovered when the department's Bureau of Workers' Compensation Compliance served a Stop Work Order on Socarras' business, HMV Construction Incorporated, and discovered he had provided 57 certificates of insurance to companies from Jacksonville to Naples. 
 
A "shell" company is often created to utilize money service businesses, such as check cashing stores, to cash large construction payroll checks for contractors who are avoiding paying for workers' compensation premiums and payroll taxes.
Socarras' arrest is part of an ongoing investigation by the North Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force's Money Laundering Unit that includes the DIF, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
 
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services including the Division of Insurance Fraud.  CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.