On January 22, 2015, The Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) announced the arrest of Noel Ruiz of Miami and Alberto B. Franco of Hialeah. The two individuals owned unlicensed clinics and were involved in a “straw ownership” scheme that defrauded numerous insurance companies which resulted in more than $650,000 in financial losses, according to a press release from DIF.
As a result of an investigation led by DIF, it was discovered that Franco and Ruiz both failed to carry the proper licensing required to own a clinic. The two allegedly used a “straw owner” to bypass Florida’s licensing requirements. A “straw owner” is a person who owns a business or property on someone else’s behalf, portraying legal ownership of the property or business all while leaving the actual owner of the business off the books.
The investigation further revealed that Ruiz was the actual owner of Rehab and Wellness Inc. and that Franco was the actual owner of Magic Hands Rehabilitation Center Inc. The investigation also revealed that the straw owners of the clinic were not aware that Ruiz submitted numerous claims to insurance companies for fictitious rehabilitative services totaling over $361,880. Franco also submitted numerous claims to insurance companies for illegitimate rehabilitative services totaling $297,677.
Ruiz and Franco were both arrested on January 14, 2016 on charges of operating an unlicensed clinic, insurance fraud, grand theft, and an organized scheme to defraud. Both individuals can face up to 30 years in prison.
Click here to read press release.