Congratulations to Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater for backing up his promise to crack down on auto insurance fraud with an immediate round of arrests.
The Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough Sheriff’s Department, worked together to arrest five people accused of submitting $118,000 in fraudulent insurance claims through a Tampa clinic.
Florida currently leads the nation in suspected fraudulent auto insurance claims, including Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims. As reported here, Atwater has committed to cracking down on perpetrators.
Two of the suspects, husband and wife Isidoro and Yusimy Martinez, were repeat offenders, DIF said.
Their second arrest demonstrates how hard it is to drive PIP fraud out of Florida. According to investigators, the couple was arrested for similar activities at the former Bella Mar Medical Center in Tampa. Yusimy Martinez pleaded guilty to insurance fraud, patent brokering and staging an accident. The court gave her one year of community control and three years of probation. The court also ordered her to pay restitution and investigative fees and was banned from owning a clinic in Florida.
Isidoro Martinez pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and patient brokering, was ordered to jointly pay restitution with his wife, investigative fees and received five years of probation. He was still on probation and was also charged with violation of probation.
To evade the law, Yusimy Martinez paid an individual to open the Marbella Medical Center in that person’s name, according to police. The individual also arranged for a false license exemption through the Agency for Health Care Administration. Once the Tampa clinic opened, 19 individuals were recruited to perpetrate auto insurance fraud.
“This kind of fraud robs hardworking Floridians of the dollars they need to rebuild their businesses and meet the needs of their families,” said Atwater in a press release. “I will continue to work aggressively to expose these crimes, and I applaud the fraud detectives who took swift action to notify the insurance companies so that most of the claims were never processed.”
DIF investigators used undercover operatives and documented sources to verify all five participants were illegally submitting false medical billing forms. The agency worked with Nationwide, Allstate and Hallmark Insurance Companies, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau to expose the reported fraud.
In addition to Isidoro and Yusimy Martinez, DIF detectives arrested Afranio Rosario, Nadine Diaz, and Lidiana Cabrera on charges of filing false and fraudulent claims through Marbella Medical Center.