TALLAHASSEE, FL – August 16, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of an Oviedo business owner for overbilling State Farm Insurance Company for fraudulent sinkhole claim repairs. Michael Hodge, owner of A&M Contracting Company, is charged with multiple counts of racketeering and insurance fraud involving billings of materials he never used to repair properties in Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties.
“This case is a perfect example of the type of insurance fraud that drives up insurance rates across the state for hard-working Floridians,” said CFO Atwater. “We must remain diligent in rooting out these fraudsters to protect Florida homeowners and the honest businesses operating in our state.”
An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, revealed that, from 2004 to 2009, A&M Contracting overbilled State Farm for grout that was never used to repair sinkhole damage to properties in the Central Florida area. It was later discovered that Hodge received nearly $182,000 in compensation for materials which he never purchased or used to repair the properties.
Hodge was arrested by fraud detectives Friday and released after posting bail. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
Anyone with information regarding suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Individuals who provide tips can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $250,000 to approximately 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services including the Division of Insurance Fraud. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.