Volume 2 Number 19
May 9, 2005










TEXT VERSION

LEGISLATURE APPROVES FUNDING FOR MORE INSURANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATORS AND A PROSECUTOR

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher thanked legislators for approving his request for funding to add more law enforcement investigators to look into Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud and workers’ compensation fraud and a dedicated prosecutor to take on the expected increase in arrests. 

The request for the funding was in the department’s budget request and included funding for six PIP fraud investigators, a lieutenant, a crime intelligence analyst, and a secretary to allow the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, to create a dedicated squad in South Florida where most of the arrests occur.  Legislators also approved funding for a dedicated prosecutor to prosecute PIP fraud and funding to add three new workers’ compensation fraud investigators throughout the state.

“Increasing our investigative force sends a strong message that we’re serious about stamping out this costly crime,” Gallagher said.  “We’re now making more than 200 PIP fraud arrests a year, and we have aggressive sentencing guidelines that include a minimum two-year prison sentence for participating in a staged accident or soliciting an accident victim with the intent to commit insurance fraud.  Still these schemes perpetuate, and Florida’s consumers get the bill.”

The fraud division’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Fraud has presented over 195 cases for prosecution and made over 160 arrests already this fiscal year. This includes employers who fail to carry coverage for their workers, employers who fraudulently avoid paying the proper insurance premiums, and claimants who lie about the extent of their injuries.

“PIP fraud and workers’ compensation fraud create not only a financial burden but a real public risk,” Gallagher said. “We have criminals driving around looking for an accident, and we have potentially thousands of workers who may not have access to the medical care they would need if they are hurt on the job. 

“Having the laws and the personnel to go after these crimes is critical, but it is equally important to show the state is committed to going after these crimes.”

The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. 

Lake County, the 43rd county, was established  May 27, 1887, being taken from Orange and Sumter counties and named for the large number of lakes within its boundaries. The courthouse, above, was built in 1924.