A Florida woman has been arrested for allegedly scamming homeowners after Hurricane Irma and attempting to steal tens of thousands of dollars in insurance claims.
According to a statement from Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis, Mary Bruce has been arrested for alleged unlicensed practice of public adjusting, grand theft and filing false and fraudulent liens on individuals’ homes.
Following Hurricane Irma in September 2017, CFO Patronis’ investigators discovered that Bruce approached homeowners whose home sustained roof and interior damages from the storm. Bruce told the homeowners that she was an “independent claims adjuster” that could negotiate settlements with insurance companies.
Bruce required the homeowners to pay $3,500 and to sign a Power of Attorney. However, Bruce is not a licensed attorney, public adjuster, nor a general contractor.
Once signed, Bruce would submit an adjusted claim to the insurance company, doubling the original cost estimates submitted previously. If the company refused to pay the increased adjusted amount, Bruce would then place a lien on the homeowner’s property.
According to the statement, Bruce stole a total of $14,000 from homeowners. She was bonded out of jail in January but has been arrested again on separate charges of submitting $68,000 in fraudulent insurance claims to the home insurance company.
Bruce was arrested and booked into the Brevard County Jail and charged for rendering services as an unlicensed public adjuster, as well as for grand theft. If convicted, Bruce faces up to 10 years in prison.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said: “After a hurricane, Florida families are incredibly vulnerable and my fraud teams ensure that scammers who take advantage are found and thrown in jail. If you need repairs to your home and an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Report these incidents so we can get these criminals off the streets and deter others from committing these crimes.”
“It never ceases to amaze me the lengths these scam artists will go to steal your hard-earned money. My detectives caught this criminal once, and they have arrested her again. I promise you this: If you commit insurance fraud, we will find you, and you will go to jail.”