Tag Archives: Jeff Atwater

Pensacola Chiropractor Sentenced in Insurance Fraud

More than six years in prison and 10 years probation was the sentence handed down to a Pensacola chiropractor who was discovered pressuring patients to overstate their injuries in order to receive large insurance settlements, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Financial Services.

Dr. Russell Dominick, 54, was found guilty of racketeering and grand theft after a clandestine operation exposed his deceptive scheme. An undercover officer posing as a patient was encouraged by Dominick to exaggerate injuries in order to inflate the payment received by insurance.

The Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud began to covertly look into the issue after it received a complaint about Dr. Dominick. Similar experiences were then reported by other patients who also received advice from Dr. Dominick to embellish their injuries.

“Insurance fraud places a financial strain on hard-working Floridians through increased insurance premiums,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. “I am extremely proud of our investigators for working so diligently with our law enforcement partners to put an end to this illegal operation.”

Dominick was arrested by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Health assisted with the investigation. The State Attorney’s Office for the First Judicial Circuit prosecuted the case.

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Tallahassee Towing Company Accused of ‘Double Dipping’ Insurance Fraud

In a joint investigation, the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office uncovered an illegal insurance fraud scheme that involved a towing business with offices in Tallahassee and Thomasville.

According to an announcement by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, six employees of Auto Doctor Towing Company were arrested for filing fraudulent insurance claims for towing services.

The investigation exposed Auto Doctor’s alleged deceptive billing practices which enabled the company to essentially get paid twice for the same job. Even though customers were covered by AAA, they were told to bill both AAA and their automobile insurance company for towing and mileage charges, Atwater’s office reported.

A news story on WCTV Tallahassee said 22 victims were affected by the scheme, and eight insurance companies were swindled out of more than $3800.

Company owner Monte Ott is facing dozens of felony charges. Anthony Ragsdale, manager of the company, and employees Tina Norman, Daniel Justice, Dwayne Dupree, and Johnny Norman were also arrested as a result of the sham.

“I am proud of our investigators and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office for working together to shut down this illegal operation that’s responsible for defrauding insurance companies and consumers out of thousands of dollars,” said CFO Atwater. “Insurance fraud not only hurts businesses, it takes money from all Floridians through higher insurance costs.”

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Jacksonville Chiropractor Arrested for Fraudulent Billing Scheme

Chiropractor Steven Rhodes faces a maximum of five years in prison after being arrested for a fraudulent billing scheme targeting multiple insurance companies.

Jeff Atwater, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, announced the arrest earlier this week.

Ocean View Health, Inc., a Jacksonville Beach medical clinic owned by Rhodes, was used to generate fraudulent or inflated invoices. Allegations include charges for treatments never provided to clients, the submission of inflated numbers of treatments when medical treatment was provided, and the use of unlicensed staff in performing medical services.

“This kind of fraudulent activity places honest, hard-working Floridians at risk not only financially, but also physically,” said CFO Atwater. “I am proud of our investigative team for uncovering this scam and holding this fraudster accountable for his misdeeds.”

Insurance carriers affected by the scam include Kemper, State Farm, Nationwide, Esurance, Progressive, United Health, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Rhodes was booked into the Duval County Jail and released on bail.

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South Florida Man Accused of Car Insurance Fraud

A Weston man is accused of bilking insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by filing claims based on details contained in accident reports from traffic accidents involving unsuspecting drivers and other consumers who never received claims payments, according to a press release issued by the Florida Department of Financial Services.

David M. Glincher has been charged with 25 counts of insurance fraud, 22 counts of grand theft, 19 counts of uttering forged instruments, and 1 count of aggravated white collar crime.

Total theft is estimated at almost $300,000, according to the announcement. The widespread scheme involved 270 victims.

Auto Loss Claim Consultants, LLC, a Florida business owned by Glincher, was used to obtain copies of crash reports. Glincher allegedly then sent fliers to victims, urging them to file “diminished-value” insurance claims. “Diminished-value” claims allow victims to recover the difference between a car’s value before the accident and after repairs have been made.

Even when people did not contact him to complete the claim forms, Glincher used information from the accident reports to file the claims and had the checks sent to him at his business, typically netting a few thousand dollars per claim.

An insurer reported Glincher after it received five suspicious claims, and an investigation revealed that Glincher had forged 19 signatures in order to file “diminished-value” claims for other people’s traffic accidents without them knowing it.

“Insurance fraud drives up costs for all Floridians, and we will not allow it to continue,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

Glincher is now free on $29,500 bond after being booked into the Broward County Jail. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

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Two Arrested for Related PIP Insurance Fraud

Leonardo F. Marquez Garcia of Miami and Dayleann Marie Vallejo-Ruiz of Orlando were recently arrested on charges of PIP insurance fraud.

More arrests are expected in the ongoing investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud, CFO Jeff Atwater announced.

Investigators found that Garcia would allegedly perform ‘initial examinations’ on victims of vehicle crashes, and then refer his patients to the Injury Rehabilitation Center, a clinic owned and operated by Vallejo-Ruiz.

Vallejo-Ruiz, a licensed massage therapist, would then have patients sign blank treatment forms which were later submitted to the insurance company to pay for treatment that was never provided. Allstate Insurance Company was billed for the alleged medical treatments supposedly provided between February 3 and March 16, 2012, on two crash victims.

Garcia also submitted his requests for payment for his initial examinations on behalf of Global Rehabilitation Center, Inc., in Miami Lakes. However, it was discovered that Garcia—an Area of Critical Needs Doctor—was not licensed to practice medicine at that facility because it was not an Area of Critical Needs clinic. Garcia was subsequently charged with the unlicensed practice of medicine for operating outside the scope of his license.

The Orange County State Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.  Each defendant stands to face up to 15-20 years in prison if convicted.

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Hollywood Couple Arrested for Filing a Fraudulent Stolen Vehicle Insurance Claim

Miguel and Francheska Quintero were recently arrested when it was found they allegedly arranged to have their vehicle removed from their home while they were away, in order to report it missing and subsequently make an insurance claim on the supposed stolen vehicle.

CFO Jeff Atwater announced the arrest of the Hollywood couple after an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division on Insurance Fraud uncovered the plot.

On the day of the alleged theft, reports show that Miguel Quintero told Hollywood police that his 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe was locked and parked outside his home before it was stolen. The following day, Francheska Quintero filed a stolen vehicle report with GEICO insurance.

However, Quintero’s neighbor made a statement disclosing that he called Quintero on the phone to alert him about ‘two men’ who were attempting to start the Tahoe on the day of the theft.  According to the neighbor, Quintero told him that he was aware of the activity and tried to dissuade him from calling police by saying, “you don’t know anything about this.” The neighbor confirmed that he saw the two men successfully jumpstart the vehicle and drive it away.

Prior to Quintero filing the police report, a Doral police officer noted an abandoned vehicle parked off the road, and later research revealed that the vehicle was owned by Quintero.

At the time of the theft last July, the couple supposedly owed $35,173 on the vehicle loan and was three months behind on car payments.

Francheska and Miguel Quintero were arrested and transported to the Broward County Jail.

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Jeff Atwater Out of Running for FAU Presidency

FAU’s nominating committee has removed the name of Florida CFO Jeff Atwater from the list of finalists for president of Florida Atlantic University. Potential concern about having a politician as a candidate appeared to be behind the decision, according to media reports.

Atwater responded in a statement, “As I said to my staff about accepting an invitation to apply, my passion for serving as Florida’s CFO and my commitment to working with my great colleagues for years to come remains undiminished.”

Former U.S. Senator George Lemieux remains in the running, along with John Kelly, vice president for economic development at Clemson University, and Christopher Earley, dean of the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, according to the Miami Herald. A decision is expected soon.

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Florida CFO Jeff Atwater Running for FAU President

Jeff Atwater, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, is one of the 10 top candidates for president of Florida Atlantic University (FAU). The winning candidate is expected to be named by January 17, 2014.

As readers of this blog know, Atwater, 55, oversees Florida’s risk management and insurance programs. His office is responsible for the licensing and oversight of insurance agents and agencies, as well as insurance fraud investigations. Workers’ compensation is also managed by the CFO’s office.

Atwater was elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 and the Florida Senate in 2002. In 2008 he was selected by his fellow senators to serve as Senate President. He was elected Florida’s Chief Financial Officer on November 2, 2010, and sworn into office on January 4, 2011. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA from the University of Florida.

He is viewed as a leading contender, along with former U.S. senator George LeMieux, who now serves as Board Chairman at law firm Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A. The two candidates are among 10 who will be interviewed in greater depth by the search committee this week. Eight additional candidates come from the academic community in states outside of Florida.

If Atwater is selected, his Florida Cabinet seat as CFO opens up.

Former FAU President Mary Jane Saunders resigned in May 2013 following several months of controversy. She returned to a faculty position and was assigned a special research project to assess the feasibility of developing a physician’s assistant program at FAU.

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Florida Insurance Fraud Arrests Top 1,500 this Fiscal Year, Including Agents

There is an upward trend in the number of insurance fraud arrests in Florida as the state continues to ramp up efforts to reduce deception in the industry. According to an article in the Sun Sentinel on October 22, a total of 1,571 individuals were arrested through June 30, 2013, an increase from 871 only five years ago.

Although many of the arrests made include policy holders submitting fraudulent auto or homeowners’ insurance claims, there also has been an alarming occurrence of insurance agents who cheat the industry to get cheaper rates for their clients.

For example, the office of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater recently announced that Leon Mobley, a licensed insurance agent in Wellington, was arrested for allegedly submitting false and forged wind mitigation verification inspection forms on behalf of his clients, without their knowledge or approval, to obtain discounted homeowners premiums.

“Floridians place their trust in the hands of insurance agents and a fraudulent policy can devastate not only a consumer’s financial security but also their confidence in the insurance process,” according to Atwater. He said in a news release that his office is committed to guaranteeing that licensed insurance agents in Florida are held to the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

In the Sun Sentinel article, Michael Carlson, Executive Director of Personal Insurance Federation of Florida, said that the practice of insurance agents making false home inspection reports to get discounts for hurricane protection improvements, such as impact resistant doors and windows, has artificially lowered rates for some, but passed on the higher costs to others. The trade association, made up of the state’s major insurers including State Farm, Allstate and Progressive, has also found that some corrupt home inspectors will perpetrate this fraud to get clients, as well.

Jeff Grady, President and CEO of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, say that agents who carry out fraud are hurting the companies they write for in addition to hurting the insured.  There is a long-term negative impact because frequently the reason given for a denial of a claim is ‘misrepresentation,’ he said.

Lynne McChristian, the Florida representative for the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute, feels we are just hitting the tip of the iceberg. Her group recently found that Florida had “the nation’s highest insured losses and most vulnerable landscape.”

Atwater agreed that it is especially important to make sure that the state’s licensed insurance agents do things right to keep fraud at bay.

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Jacksonville Man Withdraws City Council Candidacy Following Insurance Fraud Arrest

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater recently announced the arrest of former Jacksonville city council candidate Orlando Robles-Santana for insurance fraud. Robles-Santana has been charged with filing false insurance claims and, if convicted, faces up to five years in prison.

According to the police investigation, Robles-Santana reported that his 2004 Jaguar sedan had been stolen during an alleged carjacking. He then filed an insurance claim for reimbursement of the car’s full value.

Almost a year after the supposed theft, police officers found the car while inspecting a local salvage yard. The salvage yard owner told officers that Robles-Santana had asked him to watch over his car while he was “out of the country.”

Earlier in September, Robles-Santana filed to run for the Jacksonville City Council at Large Group 1 seat. He has since withdrawn his candidacy. In his withdrawal letter to the Supervisor of Elections, he writes:

“My moral commitment, my identity as a human being and my values would not allow me to continue, at this time, running for City Council.”

CFO Jeff Atwater has publicly decried the actions of Robles-Santana. In his news release of the arrest, Atwater writes: “We will not stand by and let individuals like this steal the hard-earned money of honest Floridians.”

Reports from the Florida Department of Financial Services estimate that insurance fraud costs the United States $80 billion dollars or more a year. These costs ultimately force insurance carriers to increase their rates, thereby shifting the financial burden onto their insureds.

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