PIP Fraud Arrests in Miami
Nine arrests were made last month in the Miami area, by agents of the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud, in separate cases for personal injury protection fraud. The individuals staged automobile accidents and submitted thousands of dollars’ worth of fraudulent bills to various insurance carriers.
Personal injury protection (PIP) fraud is an issue that only exists in states that require motorists to maintain personal injury protection auto insurance (also known as “no-fault” coverage). Florida is one of ten states to do so, requiring such coverage to be purchased by any individual who owns a motor vehicle in the state. Personal injury protection allows for injured drivers to recover up to $10,000 in immediate medical coverage from their insurance company. This is supposed to help drivers bypass the often-sluggish tort system and receive compensation for their medical injuries more quickly. Essentially you are held accountable for your own injuries in an accident regardless of fault, but your insurance company will then help foot the bill.
However, by mandating such no-fault coverage, the system is vulnerable to fraud. While the number of auto accidents in Florida has remained steady since the passage of the personal injury protection requirements, the number of claims has increased. This is because unscrupulous people are faking accidents in an effort to collect money from the insurance companies. PIP fraud rings, as they are called, involve multiple individuals with a diverse set of roles whose goal is to fake accidents and collect insurance money. The organizer is the one responsible for recruiting individuals to stage or cause accidents on purpose. The patient broker convinces the people in the accident to seek medical treatment for fake injuries and also finds corrupt health care professionals who will sign off on false medical documents in exchange for money. The goal is to have all the necessary data and paperwork prepared so that a claim can be submitted to the insurance company and the individuals can collect up to $10,000. This money is then divided amongst the participants and the process is repeated.
In an effort to fight against such fraud, the Florida Department of Financial Services has a hotline that provides financial incentives to anyone who anonymously provides useful tips. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
The parties arrested last month filed more than $242,000 in fraudulent bills to eleven insurance carriers. As this type of fraud, and so many others, continue to be an area of interest for law enforcement officials in Florida, both state and federal, it is no surprise that so many arrests are being made for a variety of white collar and financial offenses. It is important you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are faced with such allegations, because they can be career-ending and otherwise life-altering, and not in a good way.
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Are you looking for a skilled attorney who can help defend you against various white collar or financial fraud charges? Please contact Attorney Tony Moss at the Tony Moss Firm, L.L.C. to discuss any defense matters. He has offices in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and is prepared to put his 27 years of experience to work for you.