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Eleven defendants from Palm Beach County were charged for their involvement in a staged accident fraud scheme, authorities said Monday.
The defendants allegedly submitted fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims for chiropractic and massage therapy treatments for people they recruited to take part in staged automobile accidents. Participants were given instructions on how to conduct the accidents, how to discuss the incidents with police officers and insurance companies, and where to go for treatment, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer, FBI Special Agent in Charge John Gillies, IRS Special Agent in Charge Jose Gonzalez and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced.
Insurers are obligated to provide PIP coverage of $10,000 per person under Florida's "No Fault" insurance law. But the defendants prepared fraudulent insurance documentation and PIP auto insurance claims for the participants, claiming that the treatments were necessary and that the patients had received them when in fact they were not necessary and in most cases medical assistance was not received, officials said.
The claims were submitted through the U.S. mail, officials said.
Obelio Rodriguez, Maria Molina, Amaurys Hernandez, Janice Velez and Yuilet Tapanes of West Palm Beach, Gilda Garcia of Greenacres, Javier de la Caridad Troncoso and Ana Ovando of Lake Worth, licensed chiropractic physician Jennifer Adams of Boca Raton, Dagoberto Milian Lopez, formerly of West Palm Beach, and licensed massage therapist Moises Madrid of Orlando were all charged were all charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, authorities said.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment.
Seven chiropractic clinics were involved in the scheme, and four of them were in West Palm Beach, officials said.
Rodriguez and Lopez are currently at large and considered fugitive, officials said, while the other defendants are scheduled for hearings and arraignments this week and some have been released on bond. No trial date has been set for any of the defendants.
Ferrer said his office has charged a total of 26 defendants for participating in insurance fraud schemes in less than 12 months.