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Claims Adjuster Faces 29 Grand Theft Charges

8/8/2002

TALLAHASSEE - A Miami-based insurance claims adjuster surrendered to authorities today on charges that he defrauded both the homeowners who hired him to represent their claims and the insurance company that paid to settle them.

Jeffrey Shammah, 35, of 3541 Flamingo Drive in Miami Beach, faces 29 counts of grand theft. State insurance fraud investigators say more charges are pending and estimate the total loss to American Superior Insurance Company to be more than $47,000.

The investigation found that Shammah, a licensed public adjuster and owner of Shammah Consultants, Inc., was hired by 27 homeowners in Northwest Miami-Dade County to settle their water damage claims against American Superior. During negotiations, Shammah gave the insurance company fraudulent documents indicating that repairs were planned for the homes. The investigation, however, found that no construction companies had been hired to make the repairs.

Investigators also say that when Shammah received the settlement checks for his clients from the insurance company, he used fraudulent means to convert them to his own use. The checks were deposited in the account of Shammah Consultants, Inc. In several cases, investigators say, Shammah provided small payments to the homeowners, indicating that the money represented a far larger percentage of the settlement money than it actually did.

Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher cautions consumers to carefully read and complete all legal contracts before signing. Many of the defrauded homeowners did not speak English well, and Shammah was able to dupe them, in part, because they signed their contracts leaving blank spaces for Shammah's percentage, which he filled in later.

The Department of Insurance, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates fraud in all types of insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation. Anyone with information about this case or other possible fraud should call the department's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. A reward of up to $25,000 is offered for information leading to a conviction.