5 insurance reps face criminal charges in connection with allegations of insurance fraud in Miami

Five insurance adjusters in South Florida face insurance fraud charges in Miami after being accused of racketeering and grand theft for allegedly participating in false auto insurance claims, National Underwriter reported.

A Miami criminal defense lawyer experienced in handling white-collar crimes in South Florida should always be consulted when dealing with complex financial crimes. When it comes to insurance fraud, and particularly claims involving auto insurance, South Florida has the nation’s highest fraud rate.

The three Allstate adjusters and two State Farm appraisers were charged by the State Attorney for Miami-Dade County with violation of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Such charges were originally meant for members of organized crime but are increasingly being used against average citizens. Being charged under RICO makes the case more complex and increases the potential penalties for conviction.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported 6,500 questionable automobile insurance claims originated in Florida in 2008, a number that jumped 15 percent to 7,447 claims in 2009. The agency monitored several types of fraud claims, including phantom paper accidents, staged accidents and suspicious hit while parked claims. Miami led the state in staged accident claims with 232, followed by Orlando, Tampa, Hialeah and West Palm Beach. While South Florida remains the focal point of fraud, other areas of the state are seeing an increase.

“While the Miami and Hialeah areas continue to show increased activity, the criminals have expanded their operation,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “The criminals who are staging and deliberately causing these accidents have been doing so because they can file claims for alleged injuries and collect big payments with little risk of getting caught.”

In this case, investigators worked with an informant that owned a body shop in investigating and arresting the defendants. The group allegedly made false claims totaling about $5 million. Authorities say the defendants inflated damage claims.