CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Additional Arrests in ‘Operation Dirty Money,’ Workers’ Comp Fraud Check Cashing Scheme
Contact: Chris Cate
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Nassar Faraj Hasan, 27, owner of a Tampa money service business, as part of a continuing enforcement effort known as “Operation Dirty Money.” Hasan allegedly failed to appropriately document multiple business transactions as required by Florida Statutes. These deficiencies were identified during an examination by the Office of Financial Regulation and referred to the Division of Insurance Fraud for further investigation.
“Operation Dirty Money continues to make great strides to eliminate illegal check cashing businesses in Florida while ensuring taxpayers are protected from the costly consequences of workers compensation fraud,” said CFO Atwater. “I commend our investigators and both the Broward County and Palm Beach County sheriff’s offices for their hard work in making this task force such a success.”
Hasan, owner of Buy One Get One, located at 4915 North 34th Street in Tampa, was charged with four felonies for violations discovered after an examination of his check cashing business. The investigation revealed that Hasan failed to keep required business and identification records in order to hide the cashing of checks, some of which are believed to be related to previously identified "shell" companies in furtherance of a large-scale workers' compensation premium fraud scheme.
In a separate but similar investigation, Luis Ramon Rodriguez, 49, the owner of Three Rodriguez in Orlando was arrested in early September on similar charges in violation of money service business practice requirements. His business was positively identified as having negotiated checks made payable to identified “shell” companies, the owners of which had been arrested previously by task force detectives.
Hasan was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on $100,000 bond. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 45 years in prison. If convicted, Rodriguez faces up to 5 years in prison.
The Workers’ Compensation Fraud Task Force was jointly created by CFO Atwater’s Division of Insurance Fraud and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in August of 2011. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office joined the task force in 2012. Through joint efforts, the task force has been able to successfully shut down more than 40 shell companies and identify over $500 million in fraudulent transactions associated with these companies. In addition, the Office of Financial Regulation is working closely with the Workers' Compensation Task Force to crack down on money service businesses in criminal violation of the Florida Statutes that govern these businesses.
Anyone with information involving 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 $342,000 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.