Articles Posted in Fraud

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Two physical therapists and five other alleged participants in Miami were arrested last week and charged with staging car accidents and then billing insurance providers as much as $161,000.

Florida’s Department of Financial Services apparently spent the last few months working with an informant to document the alleged car insurance fraud ring. They believe that one of the participants used Instagram, the social media app, to find people willing to help stage accidents.

These no-fault car insurance scams apparently worked like this: The accident would be staged first, then the “victims” would be taken to physical therapy clinics where they were paid up to $2,000 to request treatment for their “injuries.” After this was complete, the physical therapists would tell the “victims” what types of injuries to complain about and then their insurance companies would be billed accordingly for treatment. Miami physical therapy clinics involved have been named as Life Medical Rehab, Premier Wellness, Red Diamond, Holistic Medical and Evolution Med, according to reports.

All seven alleged participants were booked into jail in Miami. The charges include staging accidents, organized scheme to defraud, patient brokering, grand theft and insurance fraud and grand theft. The police said that they expect to arrest more people involved.

Personal injury protection motor vehicle fraud has been an ongoing issue for South Florida. There have been numerous arrests for PIP fraud schemes in recent years, including a $23 million PIP fraud scam in 2018.

Staged car accidents are nothing new in Miami and throughout all of Florida. In fact, many auto accident fraud complaints are filed by public citizens who see something suspicious and report their findings to the Florida Department of Financial Services by using the online Fraud Reporting Website. Police are always on the lookout for these “PIP Mills” that often involve physical therapy or chiropractic clinics who file fraudulent medical claims to insurance companies using PIP automobile insurance coverage. Continue reading

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A 51-year-old Wildwood notary was arrested at the end of 2021 for her alleged involvement in notarizing a document for a dead person’s bank account.

She was charged with a felony – false certification by a notary – after she was interviewed at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Building at Pinellas Plaza in The Villages.

Just what is the woman accused of? She allegedly notarized a document on Aug. 12 not in the presence of the person whose signature she was notarizing, according to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office report.

The woman apparently never met the person whose signature she was notarizing, and signed the document and stamped it with her notary stamp and seal.

The document in question was then used to withdraw funds from the deceased family member’s bank account, according to the arrest report.

The woman was arrested and booked at the Sumter County Detention Center. She has since been released after posting $2,000 bail.

A notary, also known as a notary public, is someone who has the duty to witness the signing of legal documents, such as trusts, deeds, licenses, etc. A notary is publicly commissioned official who has the task of verifying the authenticity of legal documents to deter fraud as well as serving as an impartial witness when legal documents are signed. stamp-g0ef3c5d31_1920-300x230

Legal documents are required to be notarized to make sure that the transactions are conducted properly and that no fraud is committed. Notaries serve as a person who can verify the authenticity of documents and make sure that all parties involved are entering into agreements knowingly and willingly.

Being a notary carries inherent risks. One careless mistake could easily lead to criminal charges. The following are just a few ways a notary can land themselves in hot water:

  1. Notarizing a document when the signer is not present
  2. Failing to properly identify the signer
  3. Incomplete certificates
  4. Failing to record all notarizations
  5. Allowing someone else to use your notary tools
  6. Overcharging for notary fees
  7. Offering legal advice
  8. Continuing to notarize documents once your commission expires

Notary misconduct is real and can lead to criminal charges. If you have been charged with a criminal offense related to notary misconduct in The Villages or surrounding areas, then you need to enlist the help of our Villages Criminal Defense Lawyers at 352-369-5334. Whittel & Melton as soon as possible so that we can help you clear up any misunderstandings. Once you get us involved with your case, we can conduct our own investigation into any evidence and speak with police and prosecutors on your behalf so that your side of the story can be heard. We may be able to have the charges against you dropped or significantly reduced. The best thing you can do to help yourself following an arrest is to call us at so that we can make sure nothing you say is twisted to be used against you later on.

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mail-truck-3248139_1920-300x200A postal clerk in Florida allegedly stole mail and passport applications in what federal prosecutors are calling an identity theft scheme. 

The 30-year-old Ruskin woman was arrested Monday, according to court records. Last week, a federal grand jury in Tampa charged the woman with aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and theft of a postal key.

According to the indictment, while working at a St. Petersburg United States Postal Service the woman allegedly conspired with others in a scheme to defraud financial institutions that are federally insured. She is accused of opening mail addressed to other people and taking pictures of personal information. She apparently did this with other people’s U.S. passport applications as well, according to officials. 

The woman allegedly then sent the photographs of personal information and passport applications to other co-conspirators to be used in a bank fraud scheme, according to investigators.

The indictment further charges the woman with taking restricted postal arrow keys and then passing them off to co-conspirators. These master keys give access to open mail boxes and banks of mailboxes at various locations, such as apartment complexes.

Identity (ID) theft is committed when another person steals your personal information with the intentions of committing fraud. Identity theft is one of the most frequent crimes prosecuted in the state of Florida, and those that are charged with this type of white collar crime face very serious penalties, including years behind bars and significant fines. 

When it comes to identity theft schemes, sometimes people get wrapped up in these criminal enterprises without fully understanding what they are involved in. It is not at all uncommon for people accused of ID theft crimes to have no intentions of hurting others when they just made an honest mistake. This is where our Tampa Bay White Collar Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton come in. We can explain your side of the story and show that you were possibly a victim of a larger crime and taken advantage of. We can work with the prosecution to negotiate the best possible deal where you can avoid a felony conviction and time behind bars. However, if this is not possible, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial. 

Our Tampa Bay White Collar Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have years of experience handling criminal cases involving identity theft and related charges. As former prosecutors, we know what defense strategies can defeat these charges and result in minimal consequences. We also know how serious the State takes these crimes and what they will do to obtain a conviction. The stakes are very high in these cases, but we can help you understand your rights and how best to proceed with your defense. It is important to understand that the government will pursue these charges aggressively and has virtually limitless resources at their disposal. This is why you need a criminal defense attorney that is equally as aggressive fighting in your corner to secure your freedom. 

We know that identity theft charges can be stressful and leave you feeling scared and uncertain of your future. That is why it is absolutely vital to the outcome of your case to secure legal representation as soon as you are accused of a white collar crime of this nature. Economic crimes can be successfully beat, but you must have a strong defense strategy. Every case is different, but we are happy to speak with you in a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. We can answer your questions openly and provide you with the honest feedback you need. 

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handcuff-3748614_1920-300x245A woman who ran a Florida-based charity that provides cradles for stillborn babies has been charged with scheming to defraud and several other felonies, according to reports. 

The charity provides these cradles to help families get through their tough loss of a child. 

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the 53-year-old woman was arrested last week in Lakeland. 

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services takes a tough stance against charities accused of committing fraud against their donors and released a statement that the accused woman’s actions are vile and appalling. The accused woman is the president and director of Stories of Babies Born Still. SOBBS is supposed to use donated funds to buy Comfort Cradle Devices for hospitals, according to investigators.

Their investigation allegedly revealed that payments had been given to SOBBS, but the manufacturer had only received payment for about half of the orders.

The woman was freed on $8,000 bond.

Scheming to defraud in the state of Florida is also known as organized fraud. This is a very commonly prosecuted crime in our state. This crime basically allows prosecutors to combine several small fraudulent acts into one larger crime. 

There are varying degrees of scheming to defraud in Florida. The value of the property will determine the penalties. Scheming to defraud is classified as a third-degree felony when the value of the goods are $20,000 or less. When the property or goods are valued at $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, then the crime is categorized as a second-degree felony. A first-degree felony is charged when the value of the property or goods is $50,000 or more. 

A person accused of scheming to defraud can still be charged with a crime even if no money or property was stolen. If the accused intended to steal any money or property they can still be charged. The intent to steal $750 or more can be charged as a third-degree felony. Less than $750 is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. 

In order for the State to successfully prove its case against someone accused of scheming to defraud, they must demonstrate that the accused intended to defraud others. It is very possible in these types of cases for the person accused to have no intent of defrauding others or possibly completely unaware of their involvement in an organized crime scheme. 

Fraud charges fall under the umbrella of white collar crimes. Criminal consequences all depend on the amount of money involved as outlined above. Most investigations of fraud go one for years, so it is very important to protect yourself and obtain legal representation as soon as you become aware you are the target of an investigation. 

All crimes of fraud are considered crimes of dishonesty, and taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges. If you are accused of fraud in Florida, your reputation, freedom, and future are all on the line. You need an attorney who is skilled in representing those accused of scheming to defraud and other theft crimes. Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you understand your rights and how to proceed with a successful defense strategy. As former prosecutors, we are quite familiar with the tactics they use to achieve a conviction for organized fraud and other theft crimes, like felony grand theft. We can put our knowledge to work in your favor and mount a strong case based on the facts of your case. 

Theft crimes and fraud charges are nothing to scoff at. You could be looking at years behind bars and significant fines if you are convicted. Our Florida White Collar Crimes Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know that many of these crimes can arise from misunderstandings. In many instances, these crimes are charged when two individuals were unclear on how funds were to be allotted. When one party uses the funds in a way that they believed was in compliance, then there is no intent. We can help establish that what appears to be a crime was a misunderstanding and work to have the charges against you dropped. 

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Authorities have arrested a Jacksonville elementary school principal accused of trying to defraud his insurance carrier in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

According to a statement provided through a spokesperson, Duval County Public Schools has assigned the man to an off-campus role until the district’s investigation is complete.

The man allegedly sought $16,000 in reimbursements from State Farm for home repairs linked to damage from Irma, but two invoices he filed were apparently altered and a third was completely made up.

Investigators determined that invoices submitted for repairs to his roof, A/C and entertainment system were not related to Irma. According to the man’s arrest report, they were from 2013.

The man turned himself in to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to face unspecified charges Nov. 16. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

The consequences of an insurance fraud investigation go beyond just having your claim denied – you could end up in prison. Our Florida White Collar Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton will work to aggressively protect your interests when facing insurance fraud allegations.

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Nearly two dozen men are accused of massive construction fraud, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

They were arrested last week as part of an undercover sting, and now authorities are warning the public about protecting themselves against unlicensed contractors.

The nine-day undercover sting was designed to catch unlicensed contractors that authorities believe were targeting senior citizens in the area.

Detectives posed as homeowners and responded to advertisements placed by the alleged unlicensed contractors.

The contractors gave the detectives $117,000 in alleged fake estimates, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sixteen people were arrested and six more are facing charges related to this alleged scam.

Contractor laws in the state of Florida are very important to follow. These laws can be confusing, though. If you are a contractor, it is important to follow all laws related to your profession so that you can avoid any unwanted run-ins with the law. However, mistakes do happen and if you find yourself facing criminal charges, our Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help.

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A former Jacksonville Jaguars player faces insurance fraud charges linked to dental treatment authorities said he never received.

Marlon McCree is accused of filing nearly $78,000 in bogus insurance claims, according to reports. McCree allegedly received $31,000 in reimbursements as a result.

McCree, 41, turned himself into the Nassau County jail Saturday morning, where he remains in custody on five counts of filing false insurance claims, jail logs show.

The former NFL defensive back and one-time Jaguars assistant defensive backs coach faces up to 30 years in prison and $30,000 in fines if convicted of all charges.

The state Bureau of Insurance Fraud was tipped off in April by Cigna, which accused McCree of submitting bogus paperwork to the Gene Upshaw Health Reimbursement Account, or HRA.

An investigation found McCree falsified invoices that listed All Smiles Dental, Patronis said. The Jacksonville dental practice had no records indicating he was a patient there.

Insurance fraud happens when a policyholder tried to collect insurance payments that they would not have otherwise been entitled to receive. Make no mistake, this is a very serious crime that carries very serious consequences if convicted. You could be looking at hefty fines, restitution and jail time. If you have been accused of insurance fraud, it is important that you have an experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton by your side from the start.

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A 35-year-old unemployed Gainesville man is accused of devising a scheme to use dark web-bought identification information to rent hotel rooms and then sublease the rooms to people for illicit activity, according to Gainesville police.

The man faces 11 fraud-related charges and two counts of using a communications device — his cell phone — to commit a felony.

He allegedly schemed to scam the Hampton Inn at 101 SE First Ave. in Gainesville, as well as a Doubletree by Hilton, also in Gainesville, the report said.

In at least two cases, police claim he sent bogus letters to hotels attempting to secure accommodations, suggesting that GEICO and AAA were paying for rooms, when they were not, the report said.

The total damages from the scheme for two victims whose credit card information was stolen and used allegedly by the man came to $3,005.69, his arrest report said.

The alleged fraud began early in 2018 and continued through March, the report said.

The man was arrested Friday.

Fraud charges are very serious matters and are usually the result of in depth police investigations. The penalties for a conviction are very serious. You could be looking at decades-long prison sentences and pretty large fines. If you have been charged with any type of fraud, it is critical that you enlist the help of an expert Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton to protect your rights.

We are extremely experienced in complicated legal defense cases involving white collar crimes, such as fraud. You can rest assured that we will give your case the personal attention it deserves, as well as examine all evidence thoroughly, and come up with an aggressive legal strategy to protect your rights.

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Police arrested two women on Monday at the Aventura Mall who are accused of trying to buy thousand of dollars’ worth of designer goods with stolen credit cards.

Aventura police said the women, 31 and 52, allegedly stole five credit cards from a Sunny Isles Beach woman. The 31-year-old is accused of using one of the cards around 4:30 p.m. on Monday to buy two pairs of sunglasses valued at $1,400 at the mall’s Bloomingdale’s store, police said.

Police said she left the store and joined the 52-year-old woman, who was waiting inside a car in the mall’s parking lot.

Officers said they were waiting for the pair as they tried to leave the mall, having been tipped off by an earlier attempt to use the stolen credit cards.

An hour earlier, officers said, the 31-year-old had attempted to buy a designer handbag for $4,800 at the mall’s Nordstrom store. When she used one of the stolen cards to pay, the transaction was declined, police said. She tried again with another card, which was also declined.

The failed purchase triggered an alert, and the credit card company contacted the victim, who in turn contacted the Aventura Police Department.

Aventura police said that the pair had planned to resell the items that they purchased with the stolen cards. Police said they found five credit cards belonging to the victim when they arrested the women.

The 31-year-old is currently being held on $82,000 bond at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami. The 52-year-old was released on bond. According to court records, both women face multiple charges of credit card fraud and theft in addition to the Aventura Mall case.  

Fraud charges occur when someone uses deception to obtain money or other benefits from another person. In order for criminal charges to be filed, it  is not actually necessary that the person be successful in their attempt to defraud property.

Some examples of credit card fraud include:

  • Using a stolen credit card as your own
  • Knowingly reporting purchases you made as unauthorized purchases
  • Using stolen credit card information to apply for another credit card
  • Charging expenses to a credit card without the cardholder’s consent

If you have been charged with credit card fraud, our South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can defend you and your rights. We will pursue the best possible outcome in any fraud case.

Contact us online or call us at 561-367-8777 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you. Your consultation is completely free and confidential.

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A Gainesville doctor convicted of 162 counts of health care fraud for false billing and using drugs not approved in the United States was sentenced Friday to effectively serve one year in prison and to pay a fine of more than $1.13 million plus restitution.

The doctor, who had practices in Gainesville and Hawthorne, was convicted in May 2016 and sentenced Friday in federal court.

She was ordered to serve one year and one day in prison on each count. The terms will run concurrently. She will also serve three years’ of supervised release and perform 400 hour of community service. In addition to the fine, she was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution.

The woman was indicted in April 2014 on 210 counts of health care fraud and money laundering. She was charged with submitting fraudulent claims for unnecessary tests, buying drugs from outside the U.S. not approved for use here and giving those drugs to patients without their knowledge or consent.

She was convicted of falsely billing Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, in addition to billing insurance companies for counseling, treatment and training procedures that were never performed.

The woman’s Gainesville office was raided by authorities in 2011. In 2013, she closed her practice.

A conviction for health care fraud is devastating. In addition to potential criminal and civil sanctions, charges like these could wreak havoc on professional and personal reputations and there is the very real possibility of losing professional licenses. Any Floridian who suspects that they are under investigation for health care fraud or who has been charged with a related crime should seek the advice of our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton as early in the process as possible to start building the most powerful defense possible. The risks are extremely great in these situations.

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