An Orlando clinic owner, his wife and office manager were arrested last week in an ongoing investigation of a Miami-based “paper” auto accident ring that so far has resulted in 46 arrests. Investigators with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, said a year-long investigation has uncovered nearly $500,000 in fraudulent automobile insurance billings.
Jose Oscar Garcia, 27, owner of Orange Trauma & Rehab Center, and his wife Erika Ivette Chavez, 22, allegedly recruited at least three other people to participate in the scheme, which involved creating reports of accidents that never happened. The recruits were paid to go to clinics and participate in filing fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance claims.
Garcia, AKA Roberto Serrano, and Chavez are charged with insurance fraud and grand theft. Yael Elizabeth Dorville, 49, Garcia’s mother and office manager, was arrested outside the clinic and reportedly charged with obstruction.
“It is estimated that auto insurance fraud adds as much as $240 to the average Florida family’s auto insurance premium each year,” said Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “It is a crime we all pay for.”
A study released last month by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud shows Florida’s Division of Insurance Fraud leads the nation in insurance fraud convictions and presentations to prosecutors. Since 1999, the division has made more than 500 PIP fraud arrests.
Garcia opened Orange Trauma & Rehab Center, located at 22 West Lake Beauty #303, in 2003 reportedly using the fake name Roberto Serrano. Investigators said Garcia used the name after violating probation. Garcia is listed on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Sex Offender Web site and reportedly has open warrants for probation violation and immigration.
According to investigators, Garcia and Chavez’s recruits used the fake accident reports to present themselves as patients at several clinics. The participants then allegedly sought payment from the clinics to sign paperwork for treatment they never received. At least 12 fraudulent claims seeking more than $20,000 were filed with State Farm Insurance by five medical providers for four of Garcia and Chavez’s recruits.
Garcia, Chavez and Dorville were booked into the Orange County Jail. Garcia is being held without bond, while Chavez’s bond was set at $10,000 and Dorville’s at $5,000.
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