Florida CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrests of Four Miami Fraudsters in Staged Accident Scheme
Contact: Alexis Lambert
TALLAHASSEE—Florida CFO Jeff Atwater announced today the arrests of four suspects in Miami for insurance fraud and faking an auto accident. Roberto Martinez, 27, Yesenia Toscano, 21, both of Hialeah Gardens, and Rafael Javier Arroyo, 19, of Hialeah were charged with multiple counts including insurance fraud, grand theft and staging an auto accident. Concepcion Olmos Valls, 53, of Miami was charged with staging an auto accident. One participant, who had decided not to continue with the scheme, was later assaulted by individuals believed to be associated with one of the accident clinics as possible retaliation.
“Staged accident schemes like this are undermining the intent of Florida’s no fault laws and are taking money out of the pockets of honest, hardworking Floridians,” said CFO Atwater. “Our dedicated fraud investigators are cracking down on this costly and increasingly dangerous crime that is costing Florida’s consumers millions of dollars each year in increased auto insurance premiums.”
An investigation conducted by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed that Martinez organized a staged accident on June 27, 2011, involving four participants. Each participant was then referred to multiple clinics, including C&C Rehabilitation Center, Dade Wellness Center, MG Therapeutic Rehabilitation Corp., Matanzas System Corp., and ORD Medical Center in Miami, and Brothers Taylor Rehabilitation Center and Viva X-Ray Medical Diagnostic Center, both in Hialeah. Multiple clinics were used to further game the system and maximize the amount of money paid by each participant’s insurance company.
As a result of this one staged accident, the clinics submitted more than $77,000 in fraudulent insurance claims to 21st Century and Geico insurance companies.
Martinez was out on bond following a prior arrest on April 19, 2011, for organizing a staged accident in March 2008. His bond for the previous arrest was revoked and he remains in custody until trial.
Additional arrests are expected. If convicted, Martinez, Toscano, and Arroyo face up to 150 years in prison. Valls could also receive up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott, appointed by CFO Atwater, has convened a working group of interested parties to gather and develop ideas to address the fraud and other potential alternatives to Florida’s current no-fault system. The working group’s report will be completed and delivered to state policymakers in the coming weeks.
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. 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.