By Kevin Deutsch
A Coral Springs woman was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison this week and ordered to pay nearly $500,000 in restitution following her conviction for wire fraud, prosecutors said.
Between May 2011 and September 2016, Maria Caceres, 56, who lives in the Ramblewood East Condominiums, prepared and submitted 30 fraudulent insurance claims to Seven Corners—the travel insurance business that employed her in Carmel, Indiana—totaling more than $650,000, according to the Department of Justice.
As part of the fraud scheme, Caceres and her accomplices created fictitious names under which they purchased insurance policies from Seven Corners, court records show.
Prosecutors said that they also created false email addresses in the name of a hospital in Venezuela, then submitted claims to Seven Corners for purported emergency medical treatment given to fictitious people during international travel.
According to DOJ, none of the expenses were authentic, but Caceres created fake customer accounts and false documents to support the fraudulent claims.
As a result of the fraud, the victim company paid over $588,000 to accounts controlled by Caceres’ accomplices.
According to court papers, Caceres was hired by Seven Corners in 1998. She eventually became director of a department that processed insurance claims and assisted customers receiving emergency health care abroad.
Caceres worked with associates to create the fictional customers, buy insurance policies under their fake names, and file fraudulent claims later paid out by her employer, records show. Prosecutors said she also scoured news articles and medical documents to help obtain information for the fraudulent claims.
Most of the false claims were paid out by Seven Corners to financial accounts controlled by a person identified in court papers as R.C., “an individual with whom Caceres is known to have a personal relationship.” R.C. pretended to represent the Venezuelan hospital Caceres, and her accomplices claimed to have provided the emergency care, prosecutors said.
The scheme was brought to an end in December 2016 when the customer service director for Seven Corners raised the issue of Caceres’ claims with the company’s chief operating officer. Caceres was fired that same month, records show.
According to the Indiana Business Journal, Caceres was the third Seven Corners employee to face fraud charges within two years. The employees were implicated in separate criminal cases in which prosecutors alleged more than $3.5 million in fraud.
Caceres, who previously pleaded guilty in her case, will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for one year following her release from federal prison.
She was also ordered to pay over $496,000 in restitution.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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