A Naples, Fla., man was arrested earlier this month for allegedly stealing two insurance claim payments totaling more than $96,000 from an elderly New Jersey business owner.
The Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, which operates under the direction of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and the Department of Financial Services, said the business owner filed the initial insurance claim after damage was sustained to his business during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
In 2014, the Division of Insurance Fraud received information indicating that Daniel Phelps stole two checks from George Capuzzi, an insured business owner, who was awaiting an insurance payout to make the necessary repairs needed to re-open his business located in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
DIF’s investigation revealed that in 2013, George Capuzzi was suffering from health-related issues and needed assistance with the processing of filing the post-hurricane insurance claims for his business. In light of Capuzzi’s need for aid, a mutual friend referred Daniel Phelps as someone who could assist with the claims filing process.
Taking advantage of the elderly business owner, Phelps re-directed the delivery of the insurance claims checks to his girlfriend’s residence in Naples. Once the checks were mailed, Phelps took a trip to South Florida, where he endorsed the checks by forging Capuzzi’s name. In an attempt to mask the fraudulent deposit, Phelps utilized his unsuspecting step-brother’s driver’s license to deposit the checks into a joint bank account. Phelps then transferred the money out of the joint account and into a personal account, where he used the money at will.
Over a course of three months, in addition to numerous cash withdrawals, Daniel Phelps spent George Capuzzi’s $96,000 on a new Jaguar car, a boat, Lasik eye surgery, and a trip to Key West. To date, George Capuzzi’s business has never re-opened and Capuzzi is yet to have been made whole as a result of this theft.
Daniel T Phelps was picked up at the Broward County Health Center on charges of scheming to defraud, grand theft and criminal use of personal ID. This case is being prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 20th Judicial Circuit of Florida under State Attorney Stephen B. Russell.
Source: Florida Division of Insurance Fraud
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