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Miami Couple Charged with Fraud, Grand Theft


CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

MIAMI-A husband and wife are facing insurance fraud and grand theft charges after a Department of Financial Services' investigation revealed that the husband faked a serious mental injury from an on-the-job accident.

FCCI Insurance Group's Special Investigative Unit referred the claim to the department's Division of Insurance Fraud when company investigators said they saw Ismael Vasquez , 64, driving and shopping alone. In a November 2002 deposition, Vasquez appeared to be in a stupor and his wife, Maria Sansivirini, testified that he was totally dependent on her.

"Workers' compensation fraud wreaks havoc with Florida's economy," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. "Employers struggle with the higher costs of insurance, workers suffer when employers may be forced to cut jobs or benefits, and we all pay through higher costs for goods and services."

Vasquez claimed he was injured in July 1999 at Metal Tech, Inc., in Hialeah, when a large metal tube fell on his head. He said he injured his head and left eye and was left with mental and cognitive impairments. To date, FCCI Insurance Group has paid the couple more than $70,000 in workers' compensation insurance benefits.

In addition to workers' compensation fraud and grand theft, Sansivirini is also charged with perjury. If convicted on all of the charges, each could face as much as 30 years in prison.

The Department of Financial Services, 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 may be offered for information leading to a conviction.