Miami Lakes Insurance Agent Arrested for Defrauding Consumer
Contact: Ashley Carr
MIAMI, Fla. – The Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud today arrested Giselle Avila, vice president of The Valenti Group Insurance, Inc. in Miami, for insurance fraud after she knowingly misled a consumer in order to obtain a higher commission payout. Investigators also determined that Avila prepared and issued a fictitious notice of reinstatement for the consumer’s homeowner insurance policy in an attempt to conceal that it had been canceled.
An investigation conducted in coordination with the Department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services revealed Avila, a licensed insurance agent, quoted a homeowner insurance policy premium price with inflated discounts to make the premium appear desirable. Avila assured the consumer that the quoted price included a discount for a completed wind mitigation inspection. However, Avila failed to forward the wind mitigation documents to the insurance company and when confronted by the consumer, she provided inaccurate documentation to cover her misdeeds.
As a result, the premium discount was never applied and the consumer received notification that her premium price increased. Avila continued to mislead the consumer by convincing her that she did not need to pay the increased price, which ultimately led to policy cancellation for nonpayment. Concerned about the cancellation notice she received, the consumer immediately contacted Avila, who continued her lies by stating the cancellation was a clerical error by the insurance company. To continue her cover-up, Avila gave the consumer a falsified notice of reinstatement.
However, after growing suspicious, the consumer contacted the insurance carrier directly and learned that the policy remained cancelled. While Avila gained a monetary commission, the consumer remained cheated and without insurance coverage. The company ultimately made the consumer whole by reinstating the policy and honoring the discounts that had been promised.
Giselle Avila faces up to five years in prison, if convicted. Her case will be prosecuted by the office of Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. Pending disposition of the criminal case, the Department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services, which licenses insurance agents in Florida, aims to take administrative action against her insurance license.
Investigators believe Avila may have scammed additional consumers. In an abundance of caution, consumers who have conducted business with Giselle Avila are encouraged to contact their insurance carrier to confirm that coverage is in place. This is especially important given the upcoming start of the 2015 hurricane season on June 1st. During this time, it is imperative that all consumers have an accurate accounting of their insurance coverage.
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 has awarded $350,000 to 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. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).