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Bradenton Man Charged with Theft for Inflated Claim

2/8/2001

TALLAHASSEE – A Brandenton man is facing a grand theft charge for inflating the value of a stolen car stereo in a claim he filed with his insurance company, which detected the deception through handwriting analysis.

Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher applauded the insurance company's work. "Every act of fraud, no matter how small or large, costs consumers," he said.

Jimmie L. Saffo, 42, of 203 58th Ave. W., Apt. A, was arrested Tuesday by Manatee County Sheriff's deputies on a grand theft charge, a third-degree felony, filed by fraud investigators with the Department of Insurance. Saffo faces up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

Saffo filed a claim with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company that CD equipment and speakers had been stolen from his vehicle on Jan. 19, 1997. State investigators said he provided a receipt indicating he bought the equipment for $1,765.33 and another receipt indicating the replacement cost at the same amount.

A State Farm claims investigator contacted the store where Saffo indicated he bought the stereo and was told that the receipt was fraudulent. Saffo's claim form and both receipts were then sent to a forensic document examiner who determined through handwriting analysis that Saffo had filled out the sales receipt.

Insurance department investigators said Saffo admitted that when he could not find the original sales receipt that State Farm requested, he used a blank receipt from another store and filled it out himself using the information from the replacement estimate. Investigators said Saffo then admitted that he had actually paid only $700 or $800 for the stereo.

The Department of Insurance, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme 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.