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CFO Jimmy Patronis and AG Ashley Moody Announce Arrest in $1.9 Million Life Insurance Fraud Scheme

4/13/2021

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Contact: Office of Communications, Communications@MyFloridaCFO.com, 850.413.2842
CFO Jimmy Patronis and AG Ashley Moody Announce Arrest in $1.9 Million Life Insurance Fraud Scheme

MIAMI, Fla. – Today, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the arrest of Joyce Small for allegedly orchestrating a life insurance fraud scheme which had the potential to defraud more than $1.9 million in death benefits from eight insurance companies. To date, Small collected more than $211,000 in life insurance benefits from policies she fraudulently obtained by allegedly stealing personal information from 29 of her rental property tenants, many of them seniors. The CFO’s Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS) partnered with Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office, which provided additional resources and support during the investigation.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “I’m fed up with criminals looking to take advantage of Floridians to make a quick buck, and it’s especially alarming when these fraudsters target our seniors. I am committed to using every resource available to stop fraud in its tracks and put these bad actors behind bars. Our state is fighting a fraud epidemic, and these kinds of fraud schemes raise insurance rates and make it more difficult for hard working families to obtain the insurance coverage they need to protect themselves. I appreciate the dedication of my fraud detectives and the assistance of Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office to capture this alleged fraudster and bring her to justice.”

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “This conniving criminal exploited the trust placed in her as a landlord to rip-off insurance companies. We will not stand by while criminals target Floridians and devise schemes that ultimately harm all ratepayers when insurers have to raise rates to account for this type of fraud. I am proud of my Statewide Prosecutors for working with the CFO’s office to thwart this devious insurance fraud scheme before more harm was caused by the perpetrator.”

CFO Patronis’ Insurance Fraud investigation, in coordination with the Attorney General’s Office, revealed that between 2005 and 2018, Joyce Small allegedly obtained 33 life insurance policies on 29 individuals without the knowledge of the individuals or their relatives. Small, who owns rental properties along the eastern coast of Florida from Miami Dade County to Flagler County, allegedly stole the victim’s data through information she received from their rental applications. Small chose victims that she felt were in poor health, aging, or had none or few family members in the area. The investigation determined Small used eight different life insurance companies to secure the fraudulent life insurance policies. To date, Small received more than $211,000 in benefits as a result of the death of five of the individuals she obtained policies for and, if all 29 of the victims of her scheme were to pass away before the scheme was uncovered, Small stood to obtain death benefits of an estimated $1,985,000.

Small was arrested on April 12, 2021 and was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Facility in Miami-Dade County. She faces charges of insurance fraud, organized scheme to defraud and grand theft. If convicted, she could face up to 125 years in prison. Individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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About CFO Jimmy Patronis 
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and a member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Patronis works each day to fight insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensure the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth in the state. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).