CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Three Arrests in Tampa Premium Fraud Scam
Contact: Alexis Lambert
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced three arrests in a Tampa insurance fraud case involving the theft of thousands of dollars in auto insurance premiums. Suspects Bella Jenkins, Torrance Blake and David Ball, employees of Insurance Plus located in Temple Terrace, surrendered to authorities and were charged with insurance fraud and selling insurance without a license.
“As Floridians, we rely on the honesty and integrity of reputable insurance agents and agencies to help protect our property,” said CFO Atwater. “My department is committed to hunting down these fraudsters who choose to play outside the rules and aim to take your hard-earned money.”
In August 2010, the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, began an investigation into Tampa insurance agency Insurance Plus. The division received complaints that customers were given automobile insurance coverage quotes by phone only to have the price for the coverage increase greatly at the time of purchase. Many customers paid the additional money and left the agency believing that they had insurance coverage with either Kingsway Amigo or Security National Insurance.
Customers later learned that they had no coverage, either by getting pulled over for a traffic violation and being told that their license was suspended for not having insurance, or by getting notices from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles advising of the lack of coverage. Further investigation determined that payments customers made were never sent to Kingsway Amigo or Security National Insurance.
The victims stated that the owner of the business, Bella Jenkins, a licensed insurance agent, was not present when they went to Insurance Plus in Temple Terrace, but the codefendants, David Ball and Torrance Blake, conducted insurance business with consumers without the required licenses.
All suspects were booked into Hillsborough County jail and released on bond. If convicted, they each face up to five years in prison per charge.
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.
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.