Posed as public adjusters
A pair of Miami women have been arrested for posing as public adjusters and filing false insurance claims, in a two-year long sting operation run by the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) and Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. It’s this very practice that’s addressed in bills passed by the Florida Legislature this spring.
The operation began when Citizens got word that Carmen Rosa Contreras might be acting as a public adjuster without a license and “allegedly creating or enhancing damages to homeowners properties,” according to a press release from the CFO’s office. Citizens contacted the DFS Division of Investigative and Forensic Services, which set up the sting at a Broward County home in September 2019. Two agents, posing as husband and wife homeowners, invited Contreras over to do a free inspection and she did, pointing out nonexistent damage throughout the house. Two insurance claims were filed against Citizens for the alleged property damages Contreras noted, amounting to $65,420.
On the day the Citizens adjuster was to visit, Contreras sent her associate, Alexandra Isabel Cano to the home and she instructed the undercover agents not to talk to the Citizens adjuster. Cano is accused of acting as an unlicensed adjuster as well, identifying alleged property damage. On another occasion, Cano is accused of coaching the undercover agents on what to disclose and not disclose to Citizens prior to taking part in a three-way call with Citizens.
Contreras and Cano each face charges of acting as public adjusters without a license and false and fraudulent insurance claims. If convicted, they each face up to 10 years in prison. We believe that the changes in Senate Bill 76, effective July 1, will provide additional enforcement tools for the CFO in cases such as this and look forward to seeing direction from the CFO’s office on how DFS will advise the market of the process to submit alleged violations of the new law.
LMA Newsletter of 5-17-21