Car crash fraudsters staged fake crashes, claimed injury



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Fraud investigators said they busted a ring that staged fake crashes in Orange County and cashed in on insurance claims.

State investigators said people involved in the staged car crashes would often get treated at a clinic on West Colonial Drive, even if they weren't injured.

This type of fraud is part of the reason Florida is the fourth most-expensive state for car insurance.

The ringleader of the three people involved in the insurance fraud scheme was Freddy Perez, investigators said. No one answered at his last known address.

Agents said Perez would organize staged car crashes, the people in the crashes would claim injury and then get paid to seek treatment at Colonial Chiropractic Center.

An employee at the clinic said the name of the clinic changed -- but not the doctor.

Investigators said some people were innocent victims, drivers just sitting in their cars, when a car would intentionally strike them, and the people in the back car would claim they were injured.

Lynne McChristian with Insurance Information Institute" said it's a serious crime that costs drivers in Florida millions of dollars.

Since Florida requires personal injury protection insurance, or PIP, to cover medical expenses, it's easy for people to make fraudulent claims.

Last year, fraud cases cost Floridians an additional $57 for each car on the road.

"The number of auto accidents is dropping in Florida and yet the cost of each claim is going up and the number of people making claims is going up," McChristian said.

She said she's glad to see state investigators crack down on people like Perez and his cohorts, who are suspected of at least five staged crashes, costing insurance companies more than $100,000.

No one at the clinic has been arrested or charged with a crime, but investigators said arrests could be coming.