Multiple suspects have been arrested in the latest case of insurance fraud. Two South Florida clinics were the target of the investigation and have been closed down. Insurance fraud involving staged accidents are one of the more common crimes defended by Miami criminal attorneys in South Florida over the past few years. Despite the large amount of money and man-hours spent investigating and prosecuting staged accident cases, significant numbers of arrests continue to be made every couple of months. Miami police working in conjunction with the Secret Service and other local and state agencies conducted the investigation and made the arrests. The arrests come at the conclusion of an operation dubbed "Operation Never Ends", which alludes to the fact that law enforcement, despite its efforts, cannot quell the problem.
Insurance fraud and staged accident cases are committed in the same fashion in Miami and throughout the South Florida area. Clinics pay individuals to become involved in planned automobile accidents. Once the accident has been occurred, accident reports are generated by the police officers or public service aides who arrive at the scene. The drivers and passengers involved in the accident take the accident reports to unscrupulous clinics who then sign these individuals up as patients. The would-be patients are treated on one or two occasions, x-rays or MRI's are sometimes taken, with the bills being submitted to insurance carriers under PIP (personal injury protection claims). The clinics bill the insurance carriers such as All State, Geico, and Progressive for upwards to thirty or forty treatments that were never necessary or even provided. The proceeds from the claims are used to pay kickbacks to individuals that set up the accidents ("runners"), who direct the participants involved in the accident to the clinics for treatment. The clinic owners pay the runners and the accident participants for their involvement in the fraud. It is important to note that any person found guilty of planning or being involved in a staged accident faces a two year minimum prison sentence.
When the police make arrests in insurance fraud and staged accident cases, they generally take down everyone involved in the clinic including owners, operators, office managers, secretaries, receptionists, doctors, therapists and x-ray technicians. The Miami-County State Attorney's Office has a specialized unit that prosecutes only insurance fraud and staged accident cases. The prosecutors usually offer pre-trial diversion (PTI) or probation to the participants in the stage accident, excluding the runners. Secretaries and receptionists usually suffer the same fate. Staying out of jail comes with a price. All of these individuals that receive non-jail sentences are required to testify against the owners and operators of these clinics. The owners and operators are usually offered jail or short prison sentences if they desire to enter into a plea.
The lawyers prosecuting the cases usually have a difficult time proving an owner or operator guilty at trial as long as they represented by qualified and experienced criminal defense trial lawyers. The majority of the evidence in these cases is presented by the individuals that have entered pleas and agreed to testify in exchange for receiving PTI or probation. On many occasions these witnesses provide conflicting statements at examinations under oath, statements provided to law enforcement and deposition testimony. With no physical evidence available to prosecute the owners and operators, the prosecution is left to proceed with flip witnesses whose credibility is at question. If anyone is arrested and charged with insurance fraud or planning a staged accident, they would be best served by hiring an experienced Miami criminal defense lawyer who has defended these types of cases and secured acquittals at the conclusion of several jury trials.
Several Arrest Made in South Florida Insurance Fraud Crackdown, NBC Miami.com, December 14, 2012..