MIAMI (CBSMiami) – More than a dozen people have been arrested in an insurance fraud scam responsible for keeping car insurance premiums sky high for the rest of us, according to police.
Miami Police, along with insurance company representatives, held a news conference Thursday to reveal details of "Operation Crash Clinic." The undercover probe led to the shutdown of three clinics and the arrest of 15 people.
Police said the clinics were billing insurance companies for injuries that never happened and care that was never provided, but what they didn't know was that some of these "phony patients" were undercover cops.
Those arrested included clinic owners, doctors, therapists, and receptionists who are accused of being part of this massive insurance fraud.
Essentially, the scammers staged car crashes or simply pulled accident reports from public records, to recruit patients who weren't injured to receive treatments that weren't provided.
"The therapists signs off on giving you massages and therapy for 30 days that you were only there once and then the doctor signs off on it and then the owners bill the insurance companies," explained Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa.
Auto insurance PIP fraud is a multi-billion dollar epidemic in Miami, police said, with con-men operating predominately out of Little Havana, Flagami and the Coral Way areas.
Clinics, runners and patients all got a cut.
"We got to wake up to this because we're all victims. If you live here in Florida, Florida is like one of the highest states when it comes to what you're paying in premiums," said Miami Police Sgt. Luis Taborda.
With an average premium of $1,055 for auto insurance, Florida is now the third-most expensive state, having recently surpassed New York, according to industry reports.
The City of Miami Police Department crackdown on insurance fraud won't end here. "Operation Crash Clinic" is ongoing.
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