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4 arrested in staged auto crash scam

8:06 PM, Jan 11, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, FL-- Four medical clinic employees are behind bars today after an undercover operation revealed their involvement in at least one staged auto accident, and fraudulent medical claims.

According to reports, Hillsborough deputies and Tampa police officers worked alongside the National Insurance Crime Bureau to hand over a search warrant at The Heisha Medical & Therapy Center off the 4600 block of Habana Ave. Friday

The center has been under investigation since August 2012. During that time, undercover detectives reportedly posed as patients at the center, where they would visit and sign blank medical insurance claim forms in exchange for monetary compensation. 

On most visits, reports say they would receive very minimal treatment, or even none at all. 

On one occasion in particular, officials say undercover detectives witnessed a staged crash organized by the clinic's "crash coordinator."

According to reports, the coordinator set up the crash with three participants at a staged location. The drivers intentionally crashed their vehicles and then moved to another location, from which they called police to file the false report. 

The false crash resulted in monetary compensation between $500-$1,500 for each person involved.

Detectives say this investigation allowed them to identify a total of seven suspects, four of which are clinic employees, and three of which participated in the crash.

The four clinic employees arrested:

  • Reinier Prieto Santurio, 33
  • Jose Victores Ruiz, 47
  • Jesus Fernandez, 51
  • Ana Belen Valdes, 26

"These types of fraudulent medical clinics can average a million dollars a year in false claims to the auto insurance industry," says Cristal Bermudez Nunez of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "The total combined cost statewide reaches into the millions and raises every individual's auto insurance policy by nearly $50."

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says they will continue to work closely with other agencies in an attempt to prevent and combat insurance fraud.

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