MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Florida and Miami-Dade County authorities announced the arrests of nine people Tuesday after prosecutors said they carried out an elaborate insurance fraud scheme that went on for years and generated nearly $2.5 million.
Ricardo Alvarez, 53; Rafael Exposito, 44; Barbara Maria Diaz de Villegas, 32; Jose Gonzalez, 58; Alessandra Kruger, 35; Rigoberto Lopez, 43; Alicia Pardey, 33; Romy Valdespino Rodriguez, 27; and Ricardo Tello, 38, face charges of racketeering, insurance fraud and grand theft.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said more arrests are expected.
"I will not stand by and let Floridians pay for higher insurance rates because of criminals gaming the system," Patronis said.
Officials said schemes like this affect everyone because investigators said when there are false claims insurance policies for homeowners go up. For those who aren’t yet homeowners, it just makes it more difficult when it comes time to make a purchase, they said.
From 2014 and 2019, authorities said, Diaz de Villegas owned Rubicon Group, a public adjusting company that worked with other firms and at least 26 homeowners to commit the fraud.
"All involved homeowners and fraud organizers who feel this is an easy crime will face justice," Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
Authorities said the group filed the fake claims in the Tampa area and in South Florida.
Prosecutors said the scheme involved insurance agents and even handymen who were hired to cause damage so that homeowners could file the false claims.