CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrests in Miami Staged Accident Scheme Linked to Six Fraud Rings
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced today the arrests of eight individuals involved in multiple staged accidents in Miami-Dade County connected to six PIP fraud rings.
“I am proud of the fight we won this past legislative session to reform Florida’s personal injury protection system, but this does not mean we can rest,” CFO Atwater said. “We must continue to remain diligent in our efforts to stop this type of fraud so that Florida drivers are protected.”
An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed that Alexander Cid, 47; Luis Rivero Dominguez, 35; Franklyn Chaviano, 38; Robert E Bayona, 55; Carlos Padron Fernandez, 38; Yosmel Ramos Peraza, 24; Andres Vega Fleites, 61; and Jorge Fernandez Rodriguez, 52, participated in staged accidents in coordination with six fraud rings as organizers or drivers between May 2009 to May 2011.
These staged auto accidents resulted in more than $340,000 in fraudulent auto insurance claims.
The charges will be prosecuted by the Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s Office. If convicted on all charges, they collectively face up to 455 years in prison. This case 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.
The Division recently entered into a partnership with the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), which will include the assignment of FHP Troopers to the Miami and Tampa DIF offices to work in the investigation of staged accident ring activity. The FHP also recently launched a website, in collaboration with DIF and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), to help educate the public on ways to protect themselves from staged crashes. Visit http://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/misc/StagedCrashes.htm for more information.
Anyone with information about these or any other incidents of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $275,000 to more than 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, 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.