Volume 5 Number 4
January 25, 2008

Anti-fraud operation targets 84 suspects from Pensacola to Miami

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today announced 62 Floridians have been arrested in a statewide, three-day operation that began Tuesday, targeting 84 individuals for various insurance fraud charges. The arrests, which range from Pensacola to Miami, involve alleged fraud schemes uncovered during months-long investigations with millions of dollars in potential losses.

Arrests on Tuesday included a Clearwater couple accused of title insurance fraud estimated at more than $7 million.

“Insurance fraud causes real financial pain and hurts Florida’s families, businesses and communities,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “Criminals need to know that we will not tolerate insurance fraud of any kind and we will aggressively pursue those who commit fraud on innocent Floridians.”

The charges stem from investigations by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), a sworn statewide law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation of insurance fraud. The DIF made more than 800 insurance fraud-related arrests in the last fiscal year.

Arrests occurred in numerous cities including Tallahassee, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Ocala, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Plantation and Miami. Charges are varied and include workers’ compensation fraud, title fraud, staging automobile accidents and grand theft. The operation was organized through DIF’s regional offices, with charges being prosecuted by state attorney offices in the various jurisdictions. Potential sentences could range from five years to 30 years in prison per count.

Insurance fraud in Florida has been estimated to cost Florida families as much as $1,400 a year. The DIF investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Depending on the estimated loss amount, the department will pay up to $25,000 for information directly leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information about suspected insurance fraud is asked to call the department's Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud
. Complaints can be tracked online.