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The Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, which operates under the direction of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, announced the recent conviction and sentencing of former Orlando insurance agent Mario Ferreri. Earlier this year, Ferreri faced trial on fraud charges after being accused of stealing more than $1 million in insurance premium payments from his clients. Ferreri was convicted, sentenced to serve seven years in prison and ordered to pay back nearly $1.3 million in restitution.
The Department’s investigation into Ferreri’s activities dates back to 2013 when the Department’s Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services, which licenses and regulates insurance agents and agencies in Florida, received a complaint from Lincoln Life Insurance Company outlining the company’s suspicions that Ferreri had stolen premium payments from two clients and used the money for personal gain. The Division of Insurance Fraud was alerted of the criminal nature of the case, and Ferreri was arrested on fraud charges in late 2014.
Following that arrest, Ferreri found himself again facing charges when, in January 2016, another victim came forward suspecting that a $95,000 check intended for an annuity payment may have also been stolen by the insurance agent. A subsequent investigation confirmed the client’s suspicions and additional charges were filed against Ferreri.
Following his prison sentence, Ferreri will complete three years of supervised probation. He has been permanently barred from working within the insurance industry. This case was successfully prosecuted by the Office of State Attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton of the 9th Judicial Circuit.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the recent arrest of Raimundo Hernandez-Argueta, owner of Naples construction company Complete Framing Professionals (CFP). Following a joint investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) Division of Insurance Fraud and Division of Workers’ Compensation, Hernandez was arrested on fraud charges for allegedly misrepresenting information regarding CFP’s employee operations and payroll when applying for a workers’ compensation policy. By doing so, Hernandez avoided at least $700,000 in workers’ compensation premium payments. Workers’ compensation policies protect employees in the event of an on-the-job injury and if proper policies are not in place, injured employees could be faced with lost wages and costly medical expenses to cover.
Investigators with the Department’s Division of Workers’ Compensation began investigating Hernandez in August 2013 when visits to CFP job sites led investigators to believe that Hernandez was concealing his company’s payroll amount in violation of Florida law. Investigators later discovered that Hernandez obtained a policy through Florida United Business Association providing coverage for four employees, each with an annual wage of $50,000. Hernandez paid $26,910 for this one-year policy. However, job site inspections documented 108 employees during that time frame and more than $5.5 million in total earnings, grossly lower than what was reported to the company’s insurance carrier.
We highly recommend that licensees routinely check their Mi Perfil accounts for messages from the Department. We send an email notification when a message has been sent to remind you to check your Mi Perfil account but on rare occasions you may not receive that email. For that reason, we suggest you add our domains dfs.state.fl.us y MyFloridaCFO.com to your email software's Trusted or Safe Senders List to ensure you are able to receive email notifications from us. Licensees who have a valid email address on file with the Department, as required by law, are sent important email notifications when something that affects their application, license, continuing education, or appointment(s) occurs. Additionally, we will keep you informed with warnings regarding new schemes and scams being marketed to licensees. You can update your contact information through your Mi Perfil account. We want to keep you informed in a timely manner of pertinent information. You are still required to abide by the Florida Insurance Code regardless of whether you read the information we provide or attempt to provide.