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33 Charged In Fla. Staged Auto Accident Probe

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(Photo Credit: AP)

(Photo Credit: AP)

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South Florida Crime

WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) — In the continuing crackdown on staged auto accidents in Florida, authorities have charged 33 more people in the scam that is used to defraud insurance companies out of millions of dollars.

Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said Thursday those charged included doctors, chiropractic clinic owners and therapists in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Ferrer says the group staged auto accidents between 2006 and 2012, submitting false insurance claims through 21 clinics that were part of the conspiracy.

The charges are the latest in an investigation dubbed Operation Sledgehammer that has resulted in 92 arrests and restitution orders that $5 million be repaid to defrauded insurance companies. Ferrer says staged automobile accident fraud causes insurance rates to rise for all Florida drivers.

Charges include mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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