2 arrested in Fort Lauderdale for fraud scheme


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Two people were arrested in Fort Lauderdale after being linked to a fraud scheme that targeted the state.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Joselito Martinez, 27, and Tanya Wurster, 23, on Jan. 9. The pair is being held on $50,000 bond at the Broward County jail.

The FDLE said Martinez and Wurster are connected to a scheme orchestrated by former Department of Economic Opportunity employee Sharon Echeverri and her husband, Alberto Echeverri.

Investigators believe the Echeverris defrauded DEO re-employment assistance accounts by reactivating dormant accounts, and changing the PIN and bank account information so they would receive the funds, according to the FDLE.

The two then filed hundreds of fraudulent claims for re-employment assistance and forwarded the funds to 22 identified bank accounts under their control, FDLE said.

The Echeverris were arrested last week in Orlando.

"Most often, this fraud is committed through the use of stolen identities obtained by criminals outside of DEO’s system,” DEO Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said. “But in this case, a DEO employee was part of the criminal conspiracy."

The FDLE said nearly $190,000 was stolen in the scheme.