A former Miami insurance agent has been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $1.7 million in insurance premiums from two insurance premium finance companies, according a statement from Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis. (Individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty).
Antonio Jesús Zoghbi, owner of Florida Insurance Agency of Miami, is accused of using fraudulent and stolen identities to submit fake premium finance contracts and divert policy funds into his business account.
An investigation referred to the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Investigative and Forensic Services Division by the Agent and Agency Services Division revealed that between 2016 and 2018 Zoghbi allegedly created 91 fictitious insurance policies and premium finance contracts using stolen individuals and corporation names as alleged new policyholders.
Zoghbi wrote over $1.7 million in drafts payable to his company, deposited the money into his agency business account and used it for personal gain, DFS said. He then allegedly submitted the fraudulent insurance premium finance contracts and policy information to the finance companies as new insurance customers to justify the draft payments to his agency.
Zoghbi was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center (TGK) on June 26 on one count of organized scheme to defraud, one count of grand theft, 91 counts of uttering forged instruments, and 38 counts of fraudulent ID theft.
Zoghbi’s insurance license was revoked on Nov. 15, 2018. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
This case is being prosecuted by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle’s Office.
“Millions of dollars in insurance fraud, just like this, gets passed onto every policyholder in Florida in the form of higher insurance rates and premiums,” Patronis said.
Sources: Florida Department of Financial Services and Insurance Journal
About Fraud Free Florida
In response to Florida’s ongoing fraud epidemic, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis launched Fraud Free Florida, a new initiative aimed at better coordinating collective investigative efforts to protect Florida’s large population, especially seniors, from scam artists.
The initiative will bring together statewide law enforcement officials, local state attorneys, private sector stakeholders, and members of CFO Patronis’ fraud investigative teams. Its goal will be to help Florida stay ahead of new scams and take on rampant fraud already taking place including fraud at unscrupulous opioid treatment centers, public assistance fraud, identity theft, and cybersecurity issues.
The new Fraud Free Florida initiative joins the ranks of CFO Patronis’ already robust Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS), which includes the Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) aimed at curbing hurricane-related insurance fraud. CFO Patronis’ DIFS is one of the top law enforcement agencies in the state dedicated to rooting out fraud and investigating financial crimes. Fraud Free Florida will help agencies better collaborate on fraud cases and identify law changes needed to make Florida the toughest state in the nation on fraud.
FraudFreeFlorida.com serves as a one-stop-shop for reporting fraud and learning about ways to protect yourself from scams.