TALLAHASSEE—Florida CFO Jeff Atwater announced today the arrests of five individuals involved in a staged accident scheme in Miami. Mario J. Chavez, 53, Robin Nelson Campanioni, Jr., 23, Jorge J. Mota, 27, Naima Basnueva Lastre, 24, all of Miami, and Eduardo Figueredo, 44, of Miami Springs were charged with insurance fraud, grand theft and staging an auto accident.
“Fake accidents like these are happening everyday in Florida’s biggest cities and are costing Floridians millions of dollars a year in increased auto insurance rates,” said CFO Atwater. “My office is cracking down on this costly crime. The perpetrators will be caught; they will go to jail, and we will work to get Floridians the relief they deserve on their auto insurance premiums.”
An investigation conducted by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud revealed that the five suspects met at a house in Miami to plot the staged auto accident and how the scheme would go down. After faking the accident, the participants sought treatment for their phony injuries at Doral Center Rehab and Justin Medical Services, both located at 3900 NW 79th Avenue, in Miami.
As a result of this staged accident, nearly $83,000 in fraudulent insurance claims were submitted by the clinics to Geico, Kingsway Amigo, Progressive and Unitrin Direct insurance companies.
Additional arrests are expected. If convicted, each suspect faces up to 35 years in prison.
Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott, appointed by CFO Atwater, has convened a working group of interested parties to gather and develop ideas to address the fraud and other potential alternatives to Florida’s current no-fault system. The working group’s report will be completed and delivered to state policymakers in the coming weeks.
Anyone with information regarding suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Individuals who provide tips can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $250,000 to approximately 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.