CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Multiple Arrests on Charges of Insurance Fraud and Grand Theft Following Broward Staged Accident
Contact: Chris Cate
(850) 413 – 2842
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of five individuals on grand theft and insurance fraud charges for their involvement in a staged accident that resulted in fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) billings totaling nearly $40,000.
An investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud discovered that soon after participating in a July 2012 staged accident as vehicle passengers, the defendants sought medical treatment at several South Florida clinics for injuries that did not exist. This led the clinics to file fraudulent claims against three insurance companies: GEICO, Ocean Harbor and Gainsco.
Those who were arrested include:
• Alfredo Romero, 66, Hollywood
• Alice Martinez, 27, Pembroke Pines
• Jose Rodas, 33, Fort Lauderdale
• Whitney Lopez, 25, Fort Lauderdale
• Mirna Madrid, 37, Fort Lauderdale
Alfredo Romero, a repeat PIP offender, was arrested in July 2014 for his role in another Broward County staged accident.
A sixth individual, Mario Ruiz, 32, of Fort Lauderdale is currently wanted in connection with this crime. The cases will be prosecuted by the Broward State Attorney’s Office, and anyone with information regarding Mario Ruiz’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Division of Insurance Fraud or the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
Anyone with information about 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 $349,000 to nearly 60 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.
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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 spending.