CFO Jeff Atwater Announces 12 Arrests in Ongoing Fraud Investigation Known as ‘Operation Leaky Pipes’
Contact: Chris Cate
(850) 413- 2842
TALLAHASSEE- CFO Jeff Atwater today announced that the ongoing insurance fraud investigation known as ‘Operation Leaky Pipes’ has led to the arrests of 12 Miami residents. The investigation uncovered a scheme between a licensed public adjuster and a plumber to coach homeowners on how to file fraudulent insurance claims for pre-existing or non-existent water damage. The homeowners filed fraudulent claims in an attempt to claim money for home remodeling.
“These 12 individuals tried to cheat the system and now they have to face the consequences,” said CFO Atwater. “Our team will continue to do everything in our power to fight the fraud and abuse that drives up the cost of insurance for all Floridians.”
A tip and a subsequent investigation led by Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) detectives, in partnership with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, unraveled the scheme that Jose Nino, public adjuster, and Boris Diaz, plumber, were operating. Both were arrested after being caught during an undercover operation. Both men have also provided sworn statements detailing all of the fraudulent claims filed with their assistance.
“The National Insurance Crime Bureau works with its 1,100 member companies and law enforcement to identify, investigate, and deter insurance fraud that impacts the American public,” said NICB Director Dennis Russo. “The NICB values our partnership and working relationship with the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud.”
DIF detectives obtained sworn confessions from all 12 named homeowners. They were arrested and transported to the Miami Dade County Jail for processing. They are:
• Domingo Rojas Pineda
• Lauro Alvarez
• Lourdes Alvarez
• Rafael Benitez
• David Fuentes Beyries
• Sandra Ysabel Novoa-Pinero
• Miguel A Perez
• Nioka Zerpa Pinero
• Miguel Rodriguez Prats
• Gleif Martinez Valle
• Remberto Fernandez
• Andrian Estevez
Although the homeowners will be charged individually, the scheme in total resulted in a loss of more than $137,000 to Citizens Property and Casualty Insurance Corp and more than $38,000 to Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. The cases are being prosecuted by Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
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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.