Investigators shut down two clinics in crackdown on PIP fraud and staged accidents

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Investigators have the right name for their effort to stop PIP fraud: Operation Never Ends. There is no end of bad guys who rip off the auto insurance companies for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) money.

The problem has become so bad that now the Secret Service is involved. The federal agency, along with Miami police, local and state agencies, and private insurance companies have broken up a ring of 11 individuals that authorities say staged auto accidents and filed phony PIP claims.

Police went undercover for more than a year at two medical clinics in Miami-Dade County to infiltrate the operation. In a typical scheme, clinic operators hire an individual to recruit and pay people to pretend to be in auto accidents. The people are coached on what to tell police and afterward go to a clinic where injury reports, treatment records and PIP claims are falsified.

“In one clinic that we had, I can tell you that one investigation we did in the beginning, they were up to $80,000 before we shut them down in just one crash,”Sgt. Luis Tabordaof the West Miami police department told news media.

Among those arrested were Jorge Felix Felipe Pupo, 49 and Yanaris Ramirez Paneque, 36, police said. Authorities closed two clinics, Miami Medical Care Center and Caribe Rehab.

“The State Attorney’s Office takes these cases very seriously and takes these crimes — staged accidents and insurance fraud — very seriously,” Scott Holtz of the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office told the news media. “That’s why we are committed to fighting them through our specialized fraud unit.”

The Secret Service, police departments of West Miami and Hialeah, Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office, Florida Department of Health, National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), worked in cooperation with State Farm, United Auto, Direct General and Nationwide insurance companies to break up the ring.

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