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Deputies uncover insurance fraud at Tampa clinic

TAMPA — After documenting several instances of fraud, Hillsborough deputies executed a search warrant at a Tampa clinic on Friday and arrested four of the people they say are involved.

Since August, undercover detectives posing as patients have been paid by Heisha Medical & Therapy Center to sign blank insurance forms, allowing the clinic to bill for services never rendered, the Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies also witnessed a staged crash set up by the clinic's "crash coordinator."

According to the Sheriff's Office, drivers intentionally crashed their vehicles at a prearranged location. Then they called police and filed a false report, according to deputies.

Each participant received between $500 to $1,500.

On Friday, deputies descended on the clinic, at 4620 N Habana Ave., near St. Joseph's Hospital. The four arrested Friday are:

• Office manager Reinier Prieto Santurio, 33, of Tampa, charged with patient brokering.

• Jose Victores Ruiz, 47, of Tampa, charged with filing a false report.

• "Crash coordinator" Jesus Fernandez, 51, of Tampa, charged with filing a false report and patient brokering.

• Legal assistant Ana Belen Valdes, 26, of Tampa, charged with soliciting motor vehicle tort claims.

Deputies anticipate they will make additional arrests.

Personal injury fraud is a fast-growing crime that experts say costs Florida motorists about $80 extra in insurance premiums each year.

Deputies uncover insurance fraud at Tampa clinic 01/11/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 9:42pm]
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