Nine individuals and business owners have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a large-scale organized scheme to defraud insurance companies out of more than $600,000 in fraudulent insurance claims, according to a statement from Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis.
The arrests came after a year-long joint insurance fraud investigation dubbed “Operation Rubicon” that included fraud detectives with the Florida Department of Financial Services, the Miami-Dade Police Department and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office.
The joint fraud investigation was initiated after several insurance companies notified authorities of suspected fraudulent residential insurance claims in the South Florida and Tampa areas. Detectives believe that The Rubicon Group, a public adjusting company owned by Barbara Maria Gonzalez, committed organized fraud and grand theft.
Gonzalez allegedly utilized the services of unscrupulous Florida companies, including water mitigation and restoration companies, insurance agencies and agents, appraisers, and willing homeowners to allegedly commit the fraud, DFS said. The investigation remains open and ongoing and more arrests are expected.
Patronis joined Rundle and Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan J. Perez to announce the arrests at a press conference on Tuesday.
“Today, we arrested nine individuals who are the ringleaders of an elaborate fraud scheme, with more arrests to come,” Patronis said.
Those arrested include:
- Barbara Maria Gonzalez
- Rafael Exposito
- Rigoberto Lopez
- Ricardo Alvarez
- Jose Gonzalez
- Romy Valdespino Rodriguez
- Alessandra Kruger
- Alicia Pardey
- Ricardo Tello
Rundle said on her Twitter page that 26 homeowners had been identified as participating in the scheme and would be arrested in the coming days. She added all will face RICO charges and, if convicted, could face up to 30 years in prison.
“All involved homeowners and fraud organizers who feel this is an easy crime will face justice,” Rundle said in a statement.
Patronis said DFS is expanding its insurance fraud investigative efforts to protect Florida as part of the Fraud Free Florida initiative.
“I will not stand by and let Floridians pay for higher insurance rates because of criminals gaming the system,” he said.
Source: Florida Department of Financial Services
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