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June 19--Three people are accused of staging a crash in Fort Lauderdale to collect $80,000 from an insurance company, according to arrest records.
Claudio Boyett, 44, Leslie Martinez, 45, and Claudia Hoy, 31, all of Fort Lauderdale, are facing grand theft and insurance fraud charges. Boyett was arrested Wednesday while Martinez and Hoy were arrested last week, Broward jail records show.
On Aug. 7, 2012, a U-Haul truck struck a Dodge Caravan in the parking lot of the Pare De Sufrir church at 4080 SW 18 St., according to a report from Florida'sDivision of Insurance Fraud.
Martinez was at the wheel of the Caravan that was carrying Hoy and six other passengers while Boyett was driving the U-Haul that struck the van, the report said.
Martinez, Hoy and Boyett sought medical treatment and filed an $80,000 Personal Injury Protection claim with United Auto Insurance, according to insurance company investigators.
One witness told investigators she was offered $1,500 for the use of her Caravan. Another witness admitted the accident was staged, insurance company officials said.
Insurance fraud from staged accidents was so widespread that the FBI and state authorities launched Operation Sledgehammer three years ago.
Investigators have identified about $20 million in fraudulently obtained payouts from insurers.
So far, nearly 100 people have been charged in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Some of those that have been convicted have been ordered to pay $5 million in restitution to insurers, authorities said.
According to a study by the nonprofit National Insurance Crime Bureau, fraudulent claims from staged crashes have been falling since Florida's PIP laws were reformed during the last two years.
There were 712 claims filed in 2012 for accidents that appeared to be staged compared to 328 questionable claims in 2013, the study found.
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