News Release: Atwater's Press Office
July 16, 2014
TALLHASSEE - Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced that an investigation in Naples by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud has revealed that as many as 146 employees of Fruit Dynamics, LLC, more commonly known as Incredible Fresh or Collier County Produce, may have committed workers’ compensation fraud. At least 27 of these employees are also believed to have stolen the identities of victims from 25 different other states.
“I am proud of our investigators for following a lead that will result in dozens of workers’ compensation arrests and many arrests for identity theft that have been potentially devastating for victims,” said CFO Atwater. “Any time a person commits insurance fraud it drives up the cost of insurance for everyone.”
The investigation into workers’ compensation fraud began when a former employee of Incredible Fresh who was seeking medical attention for an on the job injury admitted to using a fake identity to gain employment and suggested many of his former co-workers had done the same. Under Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Fraud Statute, it is a third degree felony to use a fake identity to either gain employment or to submit a claim for benefits. When insurance carriers don’t know who they are insuring, employees are put at risk of not being covered by insurance. Workers’ compensation fraud also raises the price of insurance for all employers buying coverage for their employees.
The Division of Insurance Fraud began making arrests today, but the investigation remains open and ongoing, including an investigation into who may have been creating and supplying the fraudulent documents. The individuals arrested today are being held at the Collier County Jail.
Anyone with information of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $342,000 to more than 50 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.