An attorney in Miami has been arrested for alleged involvement in a personal injury protection (PIP) fraud scheme that accounted for nearly $1.5 million in financial loss, according to Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS).
DIFS charges that Anett Lopez, 42, allegedly filed numerous lawsuits demanding payment for treatment of patients at Care Resources Group, LLC, a PIP clinic in Miami that fraudulently operated under a straw ownership.
A straw owner is a person who owns a business or property legally or has the legal appearance of ownership but does so on behalf of another person. Straw ownership can also be used as a tool to illegally circumvent clinic licensing requirements held by the State.
A separate DIFS investigation dating back to February 2016 revealed that Care Resources Group was a PIP clinic illegally operating under an alleged straw owner, Dr. Mario Torres, in an effort to avoid the State’s licensing requirements. As a result of that investigation, DIFS detectives arrested Torres and five other individuals who were involved in the clinic’s illegal practices which, in addition to the straw ownership, included money laundering and the solicitation of motor vehicle accident victims. Those previously arrested include Miami residents Ivan Riano, Mariagny Jacomino, Dr. Mario Torres, Enrique Iglesias, Alejandro Casanova, and Julio A. Gomez-Lopez.
DIFS, with the support of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), later investigated Attorney Anett Lopez. Lopez was the clinic’s attorney who was responsible for the filing of numerous lawsuits on behalf of Care Resources Group. Lopez filed lawsuits against more than a dozen separate insurance providers resulting in insurance payouts totaling $1,476,988. DIFS’ investigation revealed that Lopez was aware of the clinic’s multiple illegal practices, including the straw ownership scheme, when filing the lawsuits.
Lopez was arrested and booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Facility July 7, 2016 and received 15 felony charges including one count of organized scheme to defraud, seven counts of insurance fraud, and seven counts of grand theft.
This case will be prosecuted by the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office, 11th Judicial Circuit. If convicted of all counts, Lopez faces up to 85 years in prison.
Source: Florida Department of Financial Services
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