The owner of Miami-based insurance agency has been arrested for allegedly steal more than $1.7 million in a fraudulent scheme, which is said could impact every policyholder in Florida.
According to a statement from Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis, former Miami insurance agent Antonio Jesus Zoghbi allegedly used fraudulent and stolen identities to submit fake premium finance contracts and divert policy funds into his business account.
An investigation found that between 2016 and 2018, Zoghbi allegedly created 91 fictitious insurance policies and premium finance contracts using stolen individuals and corporation names as alleged new policyholders.
Zoghbi wrote over $1.7 million in drafts payable to his company, deposited the money into his agency business account and used it for personal gain. He then allegedly submitted the fraudulent insurance premium finance contracts and policy information to the finance companies as new insurance customers to justify the draft payments to his agency.
Zoghbi’s insurance license was revoked on November 15, 2018. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
CFO Patronis said schemes like this can impact every policyholder in Florida.
Patronis said, “Stealing money from the pockets of hard-working Floridians to use for your own personal gain is truly despicable. Millions of dollars in insurance fraud, just like this, gets passed onto every policyholder in Florida in the form of higher insurance rates and premiums.
“Florida currently ranks first in fraud nationwide, so, my office is committed to cracking down on these con artists and bringing them to justice.”
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said, “I thank CFO Patronis and his dedicated fraud detectives for their great investigative work on this case. My office is committed to prosecuting any individual who commits fraud to the full extent of the law. Scam artists and fraudsters who prey on Floridians and businesses will not be tolerated.”
This case is being prosecuted by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's Office. Individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty.