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DFS Pays $15,000 Reward to Florida ‘fraud Buster’


CONTACT: Justin Glover or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has authorized a $15,000 reward be granted to a Miami man who provided state insurance fraud investigators with information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of a medical clinic owner who orchestrated a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud scheme.

"I hope news of this reward will encourage more Floridians to report insurance fraud," said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services, which administers the Fraud Buster Reward program. "The truth is that fraud costs us all in the form of increased premiums."

The award recipient alerted fraud investigators that Carlos Manzano, manager of Medical Institute, was involved in a scheme to bill insurance companies for services never rendered, such as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging). Manzano solicited accident victims who would allow phony treatments to be billed to their PIP coverage. Manzano also orchestrated the staging of auto crashes in order to collect false insurance proceeds. Without the assistance of the confidential informant, Manzano could have fraudulently collected more than $100,000. As part of a pre-trial agreement, Manzano was ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in restitution in 2003.

Florida law requires drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. PIP coverage provides up to $10,000 per victim for medical bills, regardless of who is at fault. Last week, the department announced the hiring of a dedicated prosecutor to handle the increasing number of PIP fraud cases in South Florida. The prosecutor will be based in Miami, where the department's Division of Insurance Fraud has made nearly 600 PIP fraud arrests since 1999, representing nearly 60 percent of all insurance fraud arrests in that region.

The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates fraud in various forms of insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. To report insurance fraud, call the department's Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction, based on the amount of actual and potential fraud losses.