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Florida CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrest of Miramar Man for Staged Auto Accidents Resulting in $200,000 in Fake Insurance Claims

2/3/2012

Contact: Alexis Lambert
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE - Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced today the arrest of Yasser Vega-Martinez, 34, of Miramar for planning and orchestrating three staged auto accidents over a seven-month period. The staged crashes resulted in over $200,000 in fraudulent insurance claims.

“These staged accidents are at the heart of the PIP fraud epidemic that is casting a shadow over Florida’s roads,” CFO Atwater said. “Every Florida family is affected by these fake crashes in the form of high auto insurance premiums. My office is determined to work toward policy reforms to curb this costly crime.”

Vega-Martinez allegedly organized and staged three separate accidents from November 2009 to June 2010.  After the crashes took place, he referred the participants to several clinics in the Miami-Dade area including GMC Rehabilitation Center, AB Diagnostic Center, The Osteomuscular Rehab Center Corp, Y & H Imaging, Grand Canal Rehab, Justin Medical Services, Florida Health Professionals Group Corp, Angels Diagnostic Group and C & C Therapy Center Corp. As a result of these three staged accidents, a total of over $200,000 in fraudulent insurance claims were submitted to Geico and State Farm insurance companies.  
Vega-Martinez was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail awaiting bond.  If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 120 years in prison. 

This arrest is part of a continuing crackdown by CFO Atwater’s Division of Insurance Fraud and the National Insurance Crime Bureau in the fight against auto insurance fraud in Florida. This case will be prosecuted in the 11th Judicial Circuit under the direction of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

“In the battle against insurance scam artists who dip into all of our pockets, I am proud to have the full support of Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and his elite force of Insurance Fraud investigators,” State Attorney Fernandez Rundle said.  “When my prosecutors bring these insurance fraud criminals into court to face justice, we know that we have the facts and the evidence on hand to convict.  With this effective team of fraud fighters on their trail, these scammers need to recognize that they should be looking for a new and honest way to earn their living.”

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.