Insurance Fraudsters Busted!
Investigators in Florida have uncovered a complex insurance scam involving as many as 50 people on Thursday and have laid charges against 33. The highly complex scam involved a number medical professionals, clinic owners, massage therapists, chiropractors and recruiters who sought out people to play a role in the scams.
They staged car accidents and faked related injuries, with willing participants visiting medical professionals who had been paid off for a diagnosis of their injuries.
After a 3 year investigation, police moved in and arrested many of the individuals involved in staging the accidents and perpetrating the insurance fraud. Investigators estimate that the scam fleeced upward of $20 million from insurance companies.
William J. Maddalena, one of the FBI agents involved declared: “If you get upset about your car insurance premiums going up, this crime is one of the reasons why,” He continued: “Every time an insurance payout is made for a staged accident in Florida, we all feel the pain in the pocketbook.”
The arrests are part of a larger operation called “Operation Sledgehammer” which has seen the FBI and local authorities target insurance scammers in the Palm Beach, Broward and Miami areas. The scammers convicted have been ordered to repay $5 million so far and more convictions will undoubtedly be on their way.
The name for the operation comes from the fact that some of the scammers used sledgehammers to damage vehicles and make them look like they had been in an accident. The scam was highly complex because it involved people at every level including medical professionals who were prescribing fake treatment for fake patients. The recruiters found willing participants, paid them off and staged crashes around South Florida. Some of the charges include money laundering, staging financial transactions and accident fraud.
The scam has been running since as far back as 2006, netting a very large amount of cash in that time, and it used as many as 21 chiropractors to provide false injury statements. Some of the defendants have fled to Cuba to escaped prosecution.
The participants were trained by the recruiters and told which chiropractors to go to, how to file the police reports and how to file the insurance claims. The recruiters would then pay the participants, often using the funds in a separate money laundering scheme.
So if you are looking for one of the reasons why insurance premiums continue to claim, you can blame insurance scammers like the ones busted in Florida. Luckily for us the FBI and other authorities are on their trail!