Two Miami Adjusters Arrested in $400,000 Hurricane Fraud Case

July 21, 2006

Two licensed public adjusters who fraudulently collected more than $400,000 from two insurance companies by submitting bogus contractor agreements have been arrested in Miami by detectives in the Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud.

Jose Manuel Soler and Ariel L. Fernandez, of Coast to Coast Public Adjusters, allegedly submitted approximately 75 forged contractor agreements, resulting in an overpayment by Citizens Insurance of approximately $314,596.54. Detectives said an additional 29 such documents were submitted to the Tower Hill Group resulting in a loss of approximately $125,281.81.

Detectives said the forged contractor agreements were submitted in order to obtain an additional 20 percent of the estimated claim for overhead and profit. The fraudulent contractor agreements stemmed from real claims for water pipe damage. Following each storm in 2004 and 2005, Tom Gallagher, Florida’s CFO capped public adjusters fees that could be charged to storm victims and implemented a 14-day day period for victims to rescind public adjuster contracts without a penalty.

Both Soler and Fernandez surrendered on the charges Thursday and were incarcerated in the Miami-Dade County Jail. Each was charged with 104 counts of insurance fraud (third degree), 104 counts of grand theft (third degree) and one count of organized scheme to defraud (first degree) each. Bail was expected to be set at $1,050,000. Additional arrests are anticipated.

Source: Florida Department of Financial Services