The Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office announces the results of an eight-month investigation involving staged vehicle crashes and insurance fraud.
Operation Crash For Cash resulted in arrest warrants for 22 people, and search warrants at two medical clinics in Hillsborough County. Thirty-two suspects have already been charged with staging crashes. Detectives began to round up suspects and serve the search warrants this morning. The suspects include clinic employees, massage therapists and participants in staged crashes. The criminal charges range from Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO), a first-degree felony, to staging vehicles crashes.
The Sheriffs Office, in conjunction with the NICB began Operation Crash For Cash in September 2009 after deputies noticed a pattern of questionable vehicle crashes. Undercover detectives developed confidential informants and learned which medical clinics were being used in the fraud. Detectives were also able to identify the recruiters and coordinators who would solicit individuals to conduct staged crashes. Then the participants would be directed to a particular medical clinic to sign blank medical forms. At the clinics, crash participants would be coached on how to describe their injuries or pain to physicians.
One staged crash was captured on surveillance video by a camera at a business on 78th Street. Detectives obtained the video and learned how one version of a staged crash is conducted, where occupants exit the vehicle to be rammed, then re-enter the vehicle after the crash.
In other staged crashes, all occupants of the vehicles remain inside the vehicles. At no time during this undercover operation were there any legitimate injuries to any of the participants. In some instances the participants placed juveniles in the vehicles so additional claims of injury could be submitted.
The estimated loss to insurance companies due to fraudulent claims from the staged crashes investigated during Operation Crash For Cash was $18 million.
The operation continues.
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