COLLIER COUNTY — After a yearlong investigation, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office is saying it cracked an insurance fraud ring in Southwest Florida.
At a press conference Wednesday, Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said “Operation Back Breaker” resulted in 11 arrests and three pending arrests connected with four Collier chiropractic clinics.
“This has to do with defrauding insurance companies from staged accidents,” said Rambosk. “Ultimately each and every person in Collier County is affected through this, either through cost -- what it costs us through our insurance premiums -- and the potential of being a victim of an accident, an injury or something more serious.”
In January 2010, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office Organized Crime Bureau began investigating clinics suspected of committing insurance fraud by paying people to become involved in staged, intentional traffic accidents.
“It’s typically a simple side swipe or a quick in front and slam on the brake ‘sudden stop’ with very minor damage to the vehicles, and a number of people complaining of back and neck injuries in the car that was involved in the accident,” Rambosk said.
The clinics were billing insurance companies for the maximum amount allowed for treatment, although little or no treatment actually occurred.
The clinics connected with the arrests are: Royal Therapy Center, 2740 Bayshore Drive; Medical Cuban American, 2335 Stanford Court. Suite # 502; Gulf Coast Therapy & Rehabilitation, 4131 U.S. 41 E.; and Health Park Chiropractic, 2795 Davis Boulevard, Suite K.
In Collier County, Rambosk said it is estimated that there have been in excess of $1 million in fraudulent claims filed with insurers. However, the amount involved with Wednesday’s arrest was roughly $35,000.
“This is a nation-wide problem that is increasing,” said Rambosk adding that in Florida two areas -- Miami-Dade/Broward counties and Hillsborough County -- have predominately had the problem. “Unfortunately as they (law enforcement) push in those areas, it pushes that crime activity outside of those counties… and we along with other counties in the State of Florida are seeing the result of that.”
Rambosk said CCSO investigators worked with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Florida Department of Health, Infinity Insurance Company, State Farm Insurance Company, AIG Insurance Company and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company for their assistance in these investigations.
He added that Collier deputies have been trained to recognize those types of accidents and urged residents to be vigilant so they don’t become unwitting victims themselves.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Collier Sheriff’s officials said authorities were still looking for three people involved in the scam: Claudia M. Sanchez, Miguel Alberto Rodriguez and Elieser Valdes.
Sanchez, 30, of the 3000 block of Winifred Row Lane, Golden Gate, will face scheme to defraud charges. Valdes, 35, of the 11000 block of Whistlers Cove Circle, East Naples, will face scheme to defraud and fraudulent insurance claims charges. Rodriguez, 43, of the 100 block of Golden Gate Boulevard, Golden Gate Estates, will face scheme to defraud and patient brokering charges.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Sanchez, Rodriguez and Valdes should call the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 239-252-9300 or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-8477.
“Operation Back Breaker” resulted in 11 arrests and three pending arrests connected with four Collier chiropractic clinics-
■ Arrested in connection with Royal Therapy Center:
Norma Valdes, 53, and Gerardo Montalvo, 53, of the 5000 block of Dixie Drive, East Naples, were both charged with scheme to defraud and patient brokering. Rodriguez was also charged with fraudulent insurance claims.
Yirandy Hernandez, 32, of the 3000 block of 41st St. S.W., Golden Gate, was charged with scheme to defraud and fraudulent insurance claims.
Dayana Hernandez, 25, of the 5000 block of 27th Ave. S.W., Golden Gate, was charged with scheme to defraud.
Edwin Alexander Herrera, 34, of the 4000 block of Whistlers Green Circle, East Naples, was charged with scheme to defraud and unlicensed practice of healthcare profession.
■ Arrested in connection with Gulf Coast Therapy and Rehabilitation:
Celia Valdes Rodriguez, 49, of the 100 block of Golden Gate Boulevard, Golden Gate Estates, was charged with scheme to defraud and patient brokering.
Anyel Delgado, 38, of the 200 block of Manor Boulevard, East Naples, was charged with scheme to defraud and unlicensed practice of healthcare profession.
■ Arrested in connection with Medical Cuban American:
Erlis Chercoles, 39, of the 1000 block of 31st St. S.W., Golden Gate, was charged with scheme to defraud, fraudulent insurance claims and patient brokering.
Janet Alamo, 27, of the 900 block of Apple Avenue, Lehigh Acres, was charged with scheme to defraud.
■ Arrested in connection with Health Park Chiropractic:
Jacqueline Fils, 28, and Clebson Fils, 28, of the 8000 block of Allamanda Court, Lehigh Acres, were both charged with scheme to defraud, fraudulent insurance claims and patient brokering.
To learn more about this and other types of insurance fraud visit the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s site at www.nicb.org.
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