CFO Jeff Atwater Announces First Conviction of Staged Motor Vehicle Accident in Lee County
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the conviction of Alain Guevara, 29, of Lehigh Acres for staging a motor vehicle accident. Guevera pleaded guilty this week at the beginning of a jury trial scheduled in the 20th Judicial Circuit Court, making it Lee County's first conviction involving a staged motor vehicle accident, which carries a two-year minimum mandatory sentence.
Contact: Chris Cate
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the conviction of Alain Guevara, 29, of Lehigh Acres for staging a motor vehicle accident. Guevara pleaded guilty this week at the beginning of a jury trial scheduled in the 20th Judicial Circuit Court, making it Lee County's first conviction involving a staged motor vehicle accident, which carries a two-year minimum mandatory sentence.
“I applaud the hard work of our fraud investigators for thoroughly investigating all leads to bring this individual to justice,” said CFO Atwater. “We will not tolerate anyone who cheats the system, because it steals from every honest Floridian.”
An investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) revealed that Guevara and an accomplice staged a vehicle crash in August 2012 and then knowingly presented false, incomplete and misleading information for payment of a PIP claim.
The initial accident report stated that a rented truck, driven by an accomplice, failed to comply with a stop sign and collided with the vehicle driven by Guevara. Upon review of the report and damage, one of the insurance companies that received claims from the staged accident reported suspicions to DIF, and an investigation determined that damage to the vehicles was not consistent with the reported accident scenario. A vehicle damage consistency report found that the physical evidence shows that the car was not in motion at the time of impact and that the description provided at the scene of the accident was falsified.
The investigation included the subpoena of phone records, which revealed that the two parties involved in the crash were not strangers and that there were repeated calls between the drivers immediately before and after the accident occurred. The insurance companies that received the fraudulent claims were Allstate Insurance Company and REPWEST Insurance Company.
Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded more than $340,000 to more than 50 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 state spending.