Investigators say a Tampa medical clinic was staging car crashes and faking injuries to collect money from auto insurance companies.
"We can't let this just fall by the wayside," said Infinity Insurance investigator Jorge Santamaria. "This is only one example of many others that exist."
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, worked with Tampa Police Department and National Insurance Crime Bureau, to conduct a search warrant Friday afternoon at the Heisha Medical & Therapy Center at 4620 North Habana Avenue in Tampa. Undercover detectives started posing as patients there in August 2012. Sheriff's officials said Heisha employees helped the undercover detectives fill out fraudulent insurance claims for medical services they never received. Detectives said the employees also staged a car crash so they could collect personal injury protection (PIP) payments.
"It's outrageous because we end up paying for it and it raises our insurance," said Tampa driver Eli Bedren.
Three Heisha employees were arrested Friday including coordinator Jesus Fernandez, office manager Reinier Santurio, and legal assistant Ana Belen Valdes. Jose Ruiz was also arrested for allegedly taking part in one of the staged car crashes. Arrest warrants are out for three others.
Investigators say this growing form of fraud costs the average Florida driver $50 extra on their auto insurance premiums. It costs the state's auto insurance industry millions each year.
"Not every claim is fraudulent but there are quite a few out there and we know that because of the cost of the premiums that we all pay," said Santamaria.
200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606
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