Rev. Joyce Chandler has been apprehended in Miami-Dade County, Fla. and accused of filing a false insurance claim with Citizens Property Insurance Company for $89,000 for damages done to her home last September by Hurricane Frances.
Chandler’s house was demolished last week. Officials said the house had “fallen into disrepair” long before last year’s hurricane season.
“In this case, the adjustors, when they went to look at the house, could very clearly tell property conditions pre-existed any of the hurricane claims,” Lt. John Dygon, of the State Insurance Fraud Division told NBC 6 TV.
Investigators said this was not the first time Chandler tried to rip off an insurance company. Even before she bought the house, Chandler wrote a letter on behalf of the previous owner, claiming a 2003 tornado had destroyed the home, rendering it uninhabitable, NBC 6 TV reported. That claim was also rejected.
Julio Iriarte, a licensed public adjustor, is also facing fraud charges. Officials said Iriarte created fake contractor agreements, forging contractors’ signatures and license numbers and pocketing 20 percent of the negotiated claims.
“I find this happens quite often where contractors’ agreements are falsified. This is a pervasive problem with the industry,” Dygon said.
The arrests come as part of a crackdown on homeowners’ insurance fraud. Officials said they want to send a clear message as the 2005 hurricane season gets under way.
“We hope today shows people if you commit fraud, we’re going to be looking at it and come out and get you,” Dygon said.
State officials said they are currently investigating possible fraud in 18 claims against Citizens Insurance Company alone, all of them stemming from last year’s hurricane season.
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