Public insurance adjusters are hired to help fix damaged homes. Jorge Fausto Espinosa had a genius for wrecking them. The South Florida man burned and flooded dozens of homes for $14 million of inflated insurance claims. It was one of the most legendary adjuster plots in a state known for brazen insurance scams.
Espinosa may go down as arguably the all-time Dangerous Don of shady adjusters in Florida. Espinosa earned a percent of insurance payouts he lined up for client homeowners. The bigger the damage, the larger his share.
So Espinosa inflated claims like a hot-air balloon. An insurance insider, he knew how to game the insurance system like Picasso colored canvasses.
Free kitchens lured homeowners
Espinosa recruited homeowners, who gladly signed up. Fake home accidents earned them free kitchens or home remodeling, conveniently insurance-paid. His gang made home fires seem like electrical problems. He flooded homes to look like faulty water lines or clogged sewer lines. Espinosa then pushed insurers hard for large claims payouts.
Espinosa stuffed small children’s dolls into a kitchen drain. He sought more than $200,000 in flood damages. In another home, Espinosa placed bed sheets, stuffed animals and clothing under a Christmas tree. He lit up the pile with a propane torch. “Wow! Look at my masterpiece!” Espinosa told a cohort while watching the fire spread. The fire earned more than $317,000.
He told yet another homeowner to cook chicken in a lard-filled pan and leave the stove on. The insurer paid nearly $400,000. Espinosa’s people loosened a pipe under another home’s bathroom sink and let the water run. He used a garden hose to speed up the flooding.
Plotted to hire hitman
A small fire damaged someone’s home. Espinosa took a hammer to the floor, turning $9,000 of fire damage into a $70,000 insurance windfall. At least 14 insurers were soaked by more than 50 inflated claims. The state CFO, Fire Marshall and other agencies launched two full-scale probes called Operation Flames and Floods. Espinosa was beached for 20 years in state prison.
He even plotted to hire a hitman and rub out the lead prosecutor from prison after being arrested. That plot fizzled. In the end, Operation Flames and Floods flamed out Espinosa’s legendary fraud plot.
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