TALLAHASSEE, FL – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the outcome of a two-year insurance fraud investigation resulting in the arrests of 15 defendants for their roles in a Miami ring that used lunch trucks to stage more than a dozen accidents and file more than $800,000 in fraudulent property damage and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims.

“I am confident that reforms passed this session will help stop fraud at the source while giving us more tools to go after scam artists,” CFO Atwater said. “I will not stand by and let these organized crime rings steal your hard-earned dollars.”

The owners of the lunch trucks recruited participants to pose as the owners and stage auto accidents.  Between 2008 and 2010, the ring staged more than a dozen accidents.

Those arrested last week were Armando Alonso, Yordan Martin Mata, Yanet Soriano, Dunaikis Roche, April Caridad Sequinot, Alberto Paz Hernandez, Yoandris Benitez, Eduardo Alonso Castellanos, Lucia Amigot, Alicia Iris Laurenco Cuesta, Ivan Silva, Robert Jabani Hinklein, Abraham Alliegro, Evelyn Yero Noy and Jesus Iluminado Guerrero.  Yoandris Benitez surrendered today.  Additional arrests are anticipated.

This case is part of a continuing crackdown by CFO Atwater’s Division of Insurance Fraud and the National Insurance Crime Bureau in the fight against auto insurance fraud in Florida. Under CFO Atwater’s leadership, the division has arrested 392 individuals for PIP fraud in 2011, a 44 percent increase from 2010, and 166 so far in 2012.

Anyone with information regarding suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Individuals who provide tips can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.  The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $275,000 to more than 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.