MIAMI (CBS4) – More than two dozen people, including several doctors, were arrested in a massive insurance fraud investigation.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and State CFO Jeff Atwater held a news conference Wednesday to announce the arrests of 25 people accused of staging car accidents around the county, faking injuries, and billing State Farm insurance.
The nine month investigation by police was dubbed “Operation Dark Horizon”.
Prosecutors say Elsa Torrero, 40, was the ringleader in the scheme. Torrero is accused of enlisted recruiters to seek out drivers who would stage the accidents. Torrero also owns an operates New Horizon Practice in Miami, where police say all of the victim’s went to file thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims for medical services that were never rendered.
“These 25 people are going to be charged, including three licensed physicians and several licensed therapists who are all scamming our insurance system by faking accidents, faking injuries, faking medical treatments, faking therapies, all on our insurance dime,” said Rundle.
Prosecutors say Terrero operated out of three offices throughout the county.
“These are not clinics as she said, these are fraud mills,” said Rundle.
Alleged fraud mills investigators say consumers ultimately have to pay for through higher insurance rates.
“Insurance fraud is a huge criminal industry, estimated to cost Americans 80 billion dollars a year,” said Rundle.
Those arrested face charges ranging from racketeering, to grand theft, to staging accidents and insurance fraud. Many of them are facing multiple charges with maximum penalties of 15 to 30 years behind bars.