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3 in Miami Charged with Passing Fraudulent Crash Reports

3/7/2003

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

MIAMI – Three Miami residents have been arrested on grand theft and fraud charges stemming from allegations that they created fraudulent vehicle accident reports and passed them off to various clinics that billed insurance companies for more than $90,000, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced today.

Gallagher and the Legislature, which convened on Tuesday, are looking at ways to strengthen laws against fraud that targets the state's Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance system. Two years ago, the Legislature, restricted access to police accident reports. As a result, reports of staged crashes and false accident reports have increased.

An investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, led to the arrests late Thursday of Marcia Al Mistarihi, 43, her son Stephen Bolanos, 25, and Alvaro Arribas, 40. Al Mistarihi, of 11381 NW 7 St, #106, Miami, is charged with 11 counts each of grand theft, insurance fraud, and uttering forged instruments. She also is charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly taking two children to clinics as crash victims.

Arribas, also of 11381 NW 7 St, #106, Miami, is charged with two counts each of grand theft, insurance fraud, and uttering forged instruments, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Bolanos, of 2402 SW 3 St, Miami, is charged with two counts each of grand theft, insurance fraud, and uttering forged instruments and one count of unauthorized possession of a driver's license.

Miami fraud investigators said the scheme began to unravel because the three would shop the same fraudulent accident reports to more than one clinic. In this investigation, Al Mistarihi, Arribas and Bolanos are charged for claims made for four separate fraudulent crashes between Jan. 8, 2001, and Nov. 20, 2002. As a result of their actions, 17 fraudulent claims totaling $93,024 were filed with two different insurance companies.

The investigation will continue, and more arrests are anticipated.

The Department of Financial Service's, 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 insurance 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.