A Florida insurance agency owner has been arrested after being accused of submitting fake insurance applications and stealing nearly $300,000 in insurance premiums.
According to a statement from Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of Jose Manuel Caballero-Morlesin (Caballero), an insurance agent and owner of Axis Underwriters, Inc., a Miami-based insurance agency.
An extensive investigation led by the Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Insurance Fraud unraveled a complex scam in which Caballero enlisted a finance company to pay annual premiums tied to fake insurance applications. In total, DFS said Caballero submitted 38 fake applications and stole $276,000 in premium payments. Caballero confessed to investigators and now faces up to 157 years in prison, if convicted.
Many residential and commercial insurance policyholders are required to pay annual premiums up front. Insurance agencies partner with finance companies to front the cost of the annual premium, allowing the policyholders to make monthly installments to the finance company if they cannot afford to pay the full premium amount at one time.
During a six-month timeframe in mid-2016, DFS said Caballero submitted 38 applications for financing using made up consumer information. The unsuspecting finance company approved the applications and issued annual premium payments to Caballero’s insurance agency, Axis Underwriters, Inc. In time, the finance company grew suspicious when no policyholders came forward to pay their monthly installments.
The finance company reported their suspicions to the Department’s Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services, which referred the case to fraud investigators as a suspected scam. The Department plans to seek the immediate suspension of Caballero’s insurance license once formal charges are filed.
Caballero turned himself in to authorities Oct. 9, 2017, and has been charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud and 38 counts of forgery, uttering forged instruments, grand theft and the misappropriation of insurance funds.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office of Katherine Fernandez Rundle of the Miami State Attorney’s Office.
Source: Florida Department of Financial Services