They are called health clinics but they have nothing to do with health. They have to do with money.
Hillsborough County (Tampa), Florida deputies have busted a network of individuals involved in so-called staged car crashes.
The eight-month investigation ended with the arrest of 22 people Thursday, charged with insurance fraud. Many were taken into custody at four clinics wearing their clinic clothes, according to the Tampa Tribune.
Law enforcement says the clinics were set up solely to process fraudulent claims. No doctors were present at the time of the bust.
Here’s how it works: Participants meet and set up the staged car crash. They may cause damage to the auto ahead of time which is then attributed to the crash. Four or five people get in the car to make money from multiple claims. The crash occurs but some are not even in the car during the collision.
Recruiters tell participants what to say to deputies at the scene. Then they go to health clinics set up to file fraudulent insurance claims, according to undercover detectives.
At the health clinic they sign blank forms for treatment that they never receive. The insurance is billed. Under Florida No Fault Insurance, insured can receive up to $10,000 on the minimum protection in Florida, PIP, or personal injury protection.
Deputies estimate that insurance companies lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to personal injury fraud.
No one actually gets hurt say deputies, but the participants can receive $500 to $1,000 dollars per crash. The coordinators make more, between $1,500 to $4,000.
The sheriff’s office told reporters there are 164 clinics operating in Hillsborough County alone. Tampa (Hillsborough County) is reported to be the second-worst city in Florida for phony car crash claims. Brooklyn, New York is the worst area in the country.
In 2008, 141 possibly staged crashes occurred in Hillsborough County, and last year that number rose to 499.
Those arrested have been charged with participating in a staged auto accident and insurance fraud, but additional charges of felony racketeering could be added for the organizers. #