CFO Jeff Atwater and Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti Announce More Arrests in ‘Operation Dirty Money’
Contact: Anna Alexopoulos
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti today announced an additional arrest as part of continuing enforcement efforts under “Operation Dirty Money,” Evelio Suarez, 47, husband of current defendant Zairis Cruz, was arrested on multiple charges including conspiracy to commit workers’ compensation fraud and grand theft. During this investigation approximately $1 million was seized.
“Operation Dirty Money continues to make great strides in cracking down on these illegal check-cashing schemes, diverting millions of dollars from honest, hard-working Floridians,” CFO Atwater said. “I commend our investigators and Sheriff Lamberti for their hard work in making this task force such a success.”
“Complicated fraud investigations don’t always get the public attention that violent crimes do, but it is important that people take notice,” Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti said. “Operation Dirty Money uncovered swindling and theft that hurts all of us at the end of the day, and our investigative efforts will continue.”
The Workers’ Compensation Fraud Task Force investigation revealed that Suarez was the actual owner and operator of all of the businesses associated with I & T Financial Services, Inc, and Immigration and Tax Services, Inc. Investigators discovered that the money service business license for these businesses was obtained under fraudulent pretences.
Suarez was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail and is being held on $250,000 bond. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 150 years in prison. The charges against Suarez will be prosecuted by the office of Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.
The Office of Financial Regulation assisted the task force by providing financial data support and licensure information.
The Workers’ Compensation Fraud Task Force was jointly created by CFO Atwater’s Division of Insurance Fraud and Sheriff Lamberti’s office in August of 2011. Through joint efforts, the task force has been able to successfully shut down 12 shell companies and identify $140 million in fraudulent transactions associated with these companies.
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.