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Three Charged with Insurance Fraud in Staged Accident

3/14/2005

CONTACT:     
Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
 
ST. PETERSBURG—A couple and a relative are facing felony insurance fraud charges after state investigators determined they fraudulently collected $39,000 from their insurance coverage stemming from a staged automobile accident.
 
Azem Jakupaj, 41, his wife, Fikreta, 36, of 350 79 St. N., # 222, and Edin Muratovic, 26, of 6499 Wayne St. N., are charged with insurance fraud.  They were booked into the Pinellas County Jail, with bond set at $10,000 each.  The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, conducted the investigation with assistance from the St. Petersburg Police Department. 
 
"Auto insurance fraud costs us all in higher premiums and higher costs for goods and services – as much as $240 a year on the backs of Florida's families," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial
Services. 
 
On Friday, Gallagher was in Tampa as fraud investigators arrested 14 individuals involved in a patient brokering scheme to bill insurance companies.  In the last five years, the department has arrested more than 800 people associated with $23 million in auto insurance fraud.  The St. Petersburg Division of Insurance Fraud office is investigating numerous accidents believed to have been staged, and further arrests are expected.   
 
Investigators determined that the January 2004 accident, at 8th Street and 94th Avenue North, was staged, and that the defendants reported false information to Dairyland Insurance Company.  The Jakupajes said they did not know Muratovic, who was in the other car, but a witness said they were seen talking prior to the accident, and the investigation revealed that they are related.  The Jakupajes' two young daughters were in the car at the time of the staged accident, investigators said.  
 
They did not report being injured at the accident scene, but later claimed injuries.  They filed a $85,000 claim with Dairyland under their bodily injury coverage and collected $39,000. 
 
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.