A Palmetto Bay, Fla., man was arrested last month for allegedly defrauding Citizens Property Insurance Corp. of more than $30,000 relating to Hurricane Irma, according to a statement from Florida Chief Financial Officer.
Carlos Guillermo Aponte, 44, of Palmetto Bay for three counts of insurance fraud and grand theft to defraud Citizens after an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST).
DFAST received a tip after Aponte filed two claims alleging additional damages and loss of rent on his property as a result of Hurricane Irma. The investigation revealed Aponte submitted fraudulent invoices and false rental agreements along with fraudulent letters claiming loss of rent for four months totaling $30,580.
Aponte was arrested September 14 and transported to a Miami-Dade jail. If convicted on all charges, Aponte could face up to 45 years in prison and up to $45,000 in fines.
Formed in the wake of Hurricane Irma, CFO Patronis’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) deployed boots on the ground to combat insurance fraud and educate consumers on what to look out for after a storm.
“Often times disasters bring out the best in people, but unfortunately, it also brings out the worst in some. Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime and is the main cause that drives up insurance rates. Just this summer, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation cited fraud and litigation costs as the main reason for a proposed rate increase,” Patronis said.
Source: Florida Department of Financial Services
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