2 Arrested in Florida Fake Public Adjuster, $65K Claims Scheme Against Citizens
Two Miami residents have been arrested for allegedly acting as public adjusters without a license and filling false insurance claims with Citizens Property Insurance Corp., according to a statement from the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS).
The CFO’s Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS) partnered with the state-run insurer to execute the operation, which utilized a house located in Broward County and undercover fraud detectives posing as homeowners.
Carmen Rosa Contreras and Alexandra Isabel Cano were arrested for allegedly filing fraudulent insurance claims that were submitted to Citizens Insurance company for $65,420.
The covert operation was initiated by DIFS fraud detectives in September 2019, with the cooperation of Citizens Property Insurance, based on allegations that Contreras was acting as a public adjuster without a license and allegedly creating or enhancing damages to homeowner properties.
The following month, Contreras met with an undercover detective to provide a free home inspection. Contreras inspected the home and pointed out nonexistent damage throughout the house. Two insurance claims were filed against Citizens for the alleged property damages noted by Contreras.
On the day of the inspection, Contreras sent her associate, Alexandra Cano, who was then identified as a second subject and was acting as a public adjuster as well. Cano arrived at the home before the inspection and instructed the undercover detective not to say anything to the Citizens Insurance adjuster. Cano identified alleged property damage to use for the insurance claim and Citizens inspection.
Additionally, a second undercover detective posing as the homeowners’ spouse spoke to Cano prior to a three-way call with Citizens Insurance and had been coached prior on what to disclose and not disclose to Citizens Insurance regarding the alleged damages.
Contreras and Cano surrendered to DIFS fraud detectives and were booked into the Broward County Jail. Each face charges of acting as public adjusters without a license and false and fraudulent insurance claims. If convicted, each could face up to 10 years in prison. Individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Barry Gilway, Citizens president, CEO and executive director, said DFS has been partnering with the insurer in its efforts “across the industry to stamp out fraud and abuse that impacts all policyholders who are forced to pay higher premiums because of fraudulent claims.”
Source: Florida Department of Financial Services
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