It’s not a record that Miami-Dade wants, but the county is on track this year to pass Tampa-St. Petersburg as having the worst rate in Florida for auto insurance crime. The metropolitan area boosted its numbers on May 1 when authorities announced the arrest of 21 people on charges related to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud.
Prosecutors say the group staged five car accidents, sent people who were not injured to four clinics, and filed PIP claims totaling $400,000 for medical services never provided. Among those arrested was Dr. Hugo D. Goldstraj, medical director of Clarke Medical Services in Miami. The other clinics involved were Emoge Medical Services in Doral, Magic Hands Medical Services in Coral Gables and New Life Rehab Services in Miami.
The alleged crimes were discovered through an undercover investigation dubbed “Operation No Med Services.” The arrests were announced at a press conference attended by Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, reports El Nuevo Herald.
“For many people, this is an invisible crime because no bodies, guns, knives and sometimes there is no witnesses,” Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney for Miami-Dade County said at the press conference. “But this fraud affects all of us, out of our pockets when paying for auto insurance.”
The Insurance Fraud Division of the Department of Finance of Florida directed the fraud investigation. Director Dan Anderson said most auto insurance fraud takes place in Miami-Dade.
“In the first 10 months of this fiscal year, we have made more than 500 arrests,” Anderson told El Nuevo Herald. “Of those, more than 200 cases are being prosecuted by the Office of Miami-Dade.”