Florida Department of Financial Services and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office launched ‘Operation Stonewall,’ a three-day fraud sting to catch contractors allegedly agreeing to perform work without the required licenses and proper workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
Ten individuals were arrested in the fraud sting and could serve up to 5 years in prison if convicted.
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According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Vanessa Arreguin, owner of V&G Concrete, Inc. was arrested in August for three felony counts of concealing payroll to avoid workers’ compensation premiums and two felony counts of application fraud. Arreguin claimed she made less than $50,000 will conducting more than $7.5 million in business to avoid paying $51,000 in workers’ compensation.
Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis said, “Last year alone, our fraud detectives made more than 400 arrests for workers’ compensation fraud and I can assure you my office will continue to hold these individuals accountable.” Arreguin could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
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On August 4, 2015, WFLA News Channel 8 showcased private investigator Paul Colbert’s methods of hunting down workers compensation fraud suspects through the use of the most cutting-edge technology of our time, remote robotic cameras and drones.
According to WFLA, Colbert has witnessed first hand how beneficial this technology has proven to be. These built-in “hidden cameras” have the ability to detect motion, follow targets and even zoom in without the touch of a button. Colbert showed live video clip feeds of “disabled” workers throwing footballs, doing yard work, walking around without assistance and even lifting heavy loads after claiming they were far too “disabled” to attempt such things. According to Colbert, these false claims are sheer examples of incidents that these machines are aimed at eradicating. Every year workers compensation fraud costs each of us $1,000 to promote as a deterrent to such fraudulent acts per industry statistics.
Colbert understands that his surveillance approach can seem very unconventional, but believes this breakthrough technology can have the capacity to save companies thousands of dollars on fake or exaggerated workers compensation injury claims.
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