Remorse comes too late for Florida auto scammers

Fraud of the Month: May 2018

Families torn apart by relentless pursuit of bogus whiplash claims

Corruption by stealing insurance money can creep up on normally decent people. The opioid-like lure of easy money grinds away at even your deepest-held values, shifting a well-lived life into a corrosive money grab that breaks apart a helpless family when fraud prosecutors come knocking.

Jason Dalley was a personal-injury lawyer. He also was a loyal Little League Coach, respected in the community and a devoted family man.

Andrew Rubinstein was a Ukrainian emigre, and the glue that held his family together amid the weight of personal tragedies. Dalley’s and Rubinstein’s decisions to steal insurance money for a fraud ring in South Florida sliced through families that depended on them.

The duo signed up with a staged-crash ring that siphoned $23 million in bogus whiplash claims from 10 auto insurers in South Florida. All the while, helping drive up auto premiums for honest Florida drivers.

A cartel of medical clinic owners, chiropractors, attorneys and others teamed to fleece auto insurers with inflated and fake whiplash injury claims. Recruiters steered the crash victims to them. Dalley and Rubinstein were key cogs.

Greed caught up attorney

At first, Dalley was a bit player with the ring. He paid kickbacks of $2,000-$2,500 to tow-truck drivers and street recruiters to illegally bring him the crash victims. Medical providers inflated claims for chiropractic treatments, often forging medical records for treatments that never happened.

“The remorse you felt was only after you were caught. The illegal activities … affect every consumer by increasing their annual insurance premium cost,” the judge said.

Dalley filed bogus insurance claims for the crash victims, whether they were injured or not. He helped force large claim settlements with the defrauded auto insurers. The entire ring was hyper-efficient, seemingly invincible. Millions of insurance dollars tumbled down. Everyone got a cut of the money, lining their bank accounts handsomely.

Fraud investigators and prosecutors eventually cracked open the ring, hauling Dalley, Rubinstein and other cohorts into court.

Dalley had lived a clean, respectable life until greed overcame his values. He was involved in community causes, including coaching a Little League team for 15 years in Boca Raton. Be good people and play the game well, he urged the young ballplayers as their ball coach and life mentor.

His wife and three teen sons were devastated when Dalley was convicted. He was in tears when he admitted to the court that he started slowly with scamming until becoming drunk with easy money. He was the family’s rock, dumped into federal prison for a year and nine months. Dalley’s law career also is over. He’s losing his license, leaving his family to somehow make do on its own. Dalley also must come up with $1.8 million in repayment.

Made clinics into puppet operations

Rubinstein took over ailing clinics, installing straw owners to hide his illegal ownership of the puppet operations. The clinics were little more than factory lines churning out bogus whiplash claims.

He spent his wads of insurance money on day-to-day expenses, his family’s home, vehicles and vacations. Rubinstein’s 16-year-old daughter, Michelle, cried as she made a heartbreaking plea to try and keep her father out of prison. Rubinstein held their family together as her mom struggled with mental health problems and alcoholism before suffering a fatal stroke, Michelle told the judge.

Rubinstein had every chance to make a clean living. He’s an Ivy League-educated occupational therapist and former engineer. Instead he kept scamming auto insurers for two years even after learning he was being investigated. Judge Beth Bloom knew sentencing would be hard for Michelle and Rubinstein’s step-son, their family now broken up. Bloom still handed him six years in federal prison.

“The remorse you felt was only after you were caught,” the judge said. “The illegal activities … affect every consumer by increasing their annual insurance premium cost.”

 


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