Three Miami people charged with cellphone insurance scam

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Florida authorities have charged three Miami residents with cell phone insurance fraud after they allegedly submitted 40 fraudulent claims to American Bankers Insurance Co.

State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said his Financial Services Department’s Insurance Fraud Office discovered that Learne Perez, her husband, Paul Adelardo Pena Lora, and her twin brother, Leonardo Pena Lora, had obtained cell phone insurance from American Bankers. , also known as Assurant.

The trio repeatedly reported that their phones were stolen, lost or damaged in 2018 and 2019, then allegedly sold their iPhones and Samsung phones to retail stores in Miami for around $500 each. Assurant paid more than $19,000 over the false claims before company officials became suspects, Patronis’ office said.

The three were arrested on Tuesday and jailed in Miami-Dade County.

As smartphones have risen in price in recent years, cell phone insurance has grown rapidly. Some market researchers have estimated the global cell phone insurance market at $23 billion in 2020. Insurance policies can be obtained for a few dollars a month. Allstate, for example, offers a three-year plan for $10.99.

And as car insurance fraud, cell phone insurance and protection plan fraud also increased, and prosecutors had to delve into the practices. One of the most famous cases is that of Laquitta Brackins of Atlanta. Federal prosecutors said she recruited cellphone users across the city and was linked to more than 3,600 fraudulent claims that produced some 2,900 new phones.

Brackins was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2016.

According to one report, industry experts said up to four in 10 cell phone claims were fraudulent. Experts recommend that insurers register the International Mobile Equipment Identification Number, which is unique for each device and can be tracked and blacklisted.

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