Author Archives: Mark J. Rose, Esq.

Two GEICO Adjusters Charged in Miami Insurance Fraud Ring

On Monday, July 10th, 14 people were charged in “Investigation Vehicle Roulette” conducted by Florida’s Bureau of Insurance Fraud and the State Attorney’s Office. Two GEICO insurance adjusters, Juan Carlos Diaz and Cesar Santiago Tapanes, prosecutors say got cash kickbacks for helping defraud their own company were among those arrested.

In September 2016, a Lexus GS350 was involved in a fender bender with a Chrysler 320 in North Miami-Dade. The rogue insurance adjusters reported inspecting the Lexus and authorized a series of payments totaling over $16,000. However, investigators say the accident never actually happened.

In fact, the same Lexus had been the subjection of 10 previous claims involving crashes that never occurred, all signed off by Diaz and Tapanes. The scam ended up costing GEICO more than a million dollars.

According to an arrest warrant by detectives, at least 45 bogus claims were made. The group faces charges including grand theft, insurance fraud, and racketeering.

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Filed under auto insurance, Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, Fraud, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud

UPDATE: Ringleader Pleads Guilty To His Role In $23 Million Auto Insurance Fraud Crime Ring

Andrew Rubinstein of Miami and the self-confessed ringleader, Felix Filenger of Sunny Isles pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge last year. Rubinstein and Filenger were paying kickbacks to tow truck drivers and body shop workers who illegally steered accident victims to chiropractic clinics they owned at a rate of $1,500 to $2,000 per “patient.” Clinic workers would then have patients attend multiple visits, document exaggerated pain levels, and bill insurance providers for treatment in the amount of $10,000, the maximum allowed under Florida law.

According to Prosecutors, the clinics were located throughout south and central Florida, including Sunrise, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Miami, Orlando and Kissimmee.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, both sides had agreed to recommend the six-year sentence for Rubinstein. Filenger’s sentencing has been postponed. Several other people who also admitted their roles in the fraud are scheduled for sentencing later this year.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Fraud, Insurance, Insurance Fraud, Personal Injury Protection, PIP, PIP/No Fault

Florida Insurance Agent Suspended Indefinitely for Committing ID Fraud

According to the Ocala StarBanner, Kevin M. Day, 46, used forged documents to open an Allstate branch in Dunnellon. Day pleaded guilty to the fraudulent use of personal identification information of a former client.

Day used the personal information and forged documents signed in the name of a client of his former employer, saying the client would give Day $100,000 to start his own business. At least $100,000 in liquid assets is required by Allstate to open a business.

Day’s former boss investigated the situation and contacted Dunnellon police after Day first tried to buy her business, then opened his own Allstate branch. Day was sentenced to 24 months of probation, his insurance license is suspended indefinitely and he must complete 200 hours of community service.

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Filed under Florida, Fraud, Insurance

Minor ADA Violations Cost Florida Businesses Thousands in Attorneys Fees

Central Florida businesses being sued by a Daytona Beach attorney for potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act are awaiting a federal ruling to determine whether they’ll have to pay settlements in the form of attorney fees. The law forbids plaintiffs from receiving money for “relief” regardless of a court’s decision.

The alleged violations are often quick fixes, but they can cost businesses thousands in legal fees and settlement costs that could be passed on to customers.

More than three dozen Central Florida businesses have recently been hit with almost identical lawsuits filed by attorney Joe Quick. Quick represents the same four clients, often referred to as “testers” by some critics, in each lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Last legislative session, State Rep. Tom Leek introduced and passed legislation that allows business owners to hire ADA experts to inspect their businesses. Businesses are able to apply for a grace period to fix violations, but so far, only two businesses in the state have done so. Click here for more information on the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s ADA Title III Registry.

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Filed under ADA, FL Legislation, Florida, Lawsuits

Ringleader Pleads Guilty To His Role In $23 Million Auto Insurance Fraud Crime Ring

According to the Sun Sentinel, Felix Filenger of Sunny Isles, pleaded guilty this week to his role in an elaborate crime ring that operated at several South Florida chiropractor clinics. The fraud totaled at least $23 million from 10 auto insurance companies over the last seven years, per court records.

Federal prosecutors say Filenger and Andrew Rubinstein took over troubled clinics and hid their ownership by having chiropractors and other people register the practices in their names. The men told chiropractors what treatments they wanted to be performed, based on the potential revenue from the services, prosecutors said. Medical staff who refused to “play ball” were fired, they said.

Filenger admitted he, and other group leaders, paid kickbacks of $1,500 to $2,000 – per patient – to tow truck drivers and body shop workers who agreed to illegally steer accident victims to chiropractic clinics that were secretly owned by Filenger and his allies.

Filenger plead guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy on Monday in federal court in Miami and is scheduled to go to trial on January 8.  Two co-defendants, who are still scheduled for trial that day, may plead guilty to related charges on Wednesday, court records show.

Andrew Rubinstein, 48, of Miami, is jailed on charges of racketeering and mail fraud conspiracies, wire fraud, health care fraud, and making false statements.

Olga Spivak, 59, a chiropractor from Hollywood, is free on bond. She faces the same charges.

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Filed under auto insurance, Auto Insurance Fraud, Broward County, Florida, Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, Insurance Fraud, Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, Personal Injury Protection, PIP, PIP/No Fault

Florida Man Arrested for False Insurance Claim

Insurance Journal has reported that a Florida man, Claude Milhomme, was arrested for attempting to file a false insurance claim for his vehicle. According to the Department of Financial Services’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST), Milhomme filed a claim in September stating water damage to his vehicle caused by Hurricane Irma in the amount of $225 for a diagnosis, after hours fee and storage fee.

DFAST received a suspected fraud tip about one month later. After an inspection by state investigators, it was revealed that Milhomme’s vehicle was mechanically inoperable prior to Hurricane Irma’s landfall in September of 2017.

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Filed under auto insurance, Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud

UPDATE – Pilot Theodore R. Wright III Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud

UPDATE – Pilot Theodore R. Wright III Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud

According to KLTV 7 of Texas, Theodore R. Wright III, the well-known pilot who survived a 2012 Gulf of Mexico crash and used an iPad to record his time in the water, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to commit arson. Wright and three others also pleaded guilty to buying, over-insuring and ultimately destroying planes, boats, and cars to collect cash.

In May 2017, the Wright and his co-conspirators, Shane Gordon, Raymond Fosdick, and Edward Delima were charged with using fire to commit a felony and aiding and abetting, arson of property used in interstate or foreign commerce or used in an activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.

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Filed under Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Defense, Insurance Fraud

Panama City Woman Sinks SUV for Insurance Money

According to the Panama City News Herald, 65-year-old Debra Jenkins has been arrested and charged with insurance fraud after having her SUV driven into a lagoon and pretending that the vehicle was stolen. The police had reportedly found a stick inside the vehicle on the driver’s floorboard which appeared to be purposely placed there to hold the gas pedal after the car was removed from the water. Video evidence from Jenkins’ neighbor also showed her SUV leaving her home together with another SUV, then only the second SUV returning that night with two people inside.

Jenkins later admitted to deputies that she and a friend had devised the plan to get rid of the vehicle and claim insurance money.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud

Florida Man Caught Staging Crash on Dashcam

According to the Sun Sentinel, a Florida man was arrested on Friday, October 6th in connection with an alleged staged crash that occurred in December of 2016. 65-year-old Mauril Aldophe of Delray Beach plotted to force a tow truck to rear-end him. Unfortunately for Mr. Aldophe, the tow truck was equipped with a dashcam capturing footage of him abruptly stopping for no apparent reason and then driving forward for several feet, throwing his car into reverse, and then slamming back into the tow truck.

According to investigators, Mr. Aldophe went to a medical clinic three days after the incident and filed a personal injury claim stating a truck had rear-ended him while he was stopped at a red light.

Mr. Aldophe now faces charges for insurance fraud and participation in an intentional crash.

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Filed under Auto Insurance Fraud, Florida, Insurance Claims, Insurance Fraud, Personal Injury Protection, PIP, PIP/No Fault

New Statute To Help Deflect Frivolous ADA Lawsuits

As reported in the Miami Herald, Florida lawmakers have implemented a new law aimed at ADA public accommodation compliance lawsuits often pressuring small businesses and property owners into quick settlements in order to avoid lengthy and costly court battles. In an analysis published in March by The News-Press (Fort Myers), of all the lawsuits filed under the ADA’s public accommodations law in Florida during the past five years, more than half of the approximately 6,000 suits were filed by just 12 plaintiffs. In addition, many of the plaintiffs are represented by the same law firms. The bill, receiving unanimous approval in both the Florida House and Senate during the 2017 legislative session, was recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott and is now in effect.

The new statute enables businesses and property owners to take substantive, preventative measures to help insulate themselves from the most frivolous claims. Under the law, a business or property owner may retain a qualified expert to conduct an inspection of their property to ensure compliance with building codes satisfying the ADA’s requirements. If the property is found to be in compliance with the ADA, the expert may issue a certificate of conformity that includes the date of inspection, proof of the expert’s qualifications, and a statement confirming that the property is in conformity. For properties that are not found to be in compliance, the owner may develop and submit a remediation plan approved by a qualified expert indicating that the property will be brought into conformity within a specified time period.

The compliance certifications or remediation plans may be filed with the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which will now maintain a publicly accessible website to serve as a registry for all of the certifications and remediation plans that it receives. Importantly, a remediation plan in existence before an ADA lawsuit is filed could serve to moot such a lawsuit.

The new law does not prohibit disabled plaintiffs from filing ADA public accommodations lawsuits, nor does it prohibit plaintiffs’ attorneys from seeking fees. It does, however, provide Florida businesses and property owners with a means to potentially defeat or limit frivolous ADA barrier-to-access lawsuits and greatly minimize their exposure to related attorney fees and costs.

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Filed under ADA, FL Legislation, Florida, Lawsuits