23 defendants accused of participating in a $ 26 million life insurance fraud scheme USAO-NDIL

CHICAGO – A federal grand jury in Chicago has indicted 23 defendants for involvement in a fraud scheme that allegedly cheated ten life insurance companies for at least $ 26 million in fraudulent compensation.

Defendants filed fraudulent applications for life insurance policies in the names of various individuals and then forced carriers to pay death benefits by knowingly misrepresenting the identity of another deceased person as insured, according to an indictment released today in the U.S. District Court. Chicago. The fraud scheme charged in the indictment began in 2013 and lasted until last month. Defendants include spouses and, in some cases, their children, as well as an insurance agent who owned a side business that performed medical examinations on candidates for term life insurance. The prosecution is seeking confiscation from the defendants of at least $ 26 million in alleged illicit profits, as well as nine luxury cars, eight Rolex watches and properties in the suburbs of Chicago’s Orlando Park, Bridgeview and Burbank.

The indictment raises charges against 23 defendants on a number of charges of physical and postal fraud. Most of the defendants were arrested Thursday in Illinois and Florida and will initially appear in federal courts in Chicago, Orlando, Tampa and Miami.

The indictment and arrests were announced by John R. Laush, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern Illinois County; Emmerson Buie, Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Chicago; and Nicholas A. Pecora, Jr., Chief of Arlington Heights, Illinois, Police Department. Valuable assistance was provided by the Cook County Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central and Southern Districts of Florida. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip N. Fleur and Andrea L. Campbell.

“The fraud scheme accused of the charge involved a complex fraud committed against a number of insurance companies for financial gain,” said US Attorney Laush. “I congratulate the FBI Field Office in Chicago and the Arlington Heights Police Department for their hard work in uncovering this complex scheme and in their efforts to hold defendants responsible for personal and economic harm.

“We will not allow fraud to prevail over selfish financial gain,” said Buye of the FBI. “The FBI is proud to work with our local law enforcement and prosecutorial partners to combat these extravagant fraud schemes and ensure that justice is restored.

“The Arlington Heights Police Department is proud of the results achieved by detectives and agents who investigated this multinational fraud scheme, which includes a structured plan designed to defraud multiple insurance companies,” said AHPD chief Pecora. “This investigation is a clear example of local and federal partners working together to defeat the criminal element and stop their illegal activities.

Accused of the charge are JAMES MILLS, also known as “Jamie Montes”, 47, from Oak Lone, Illinois, JOSEPH BROWN, 50, from Chandler, Arizona, Julie Ellie, 47, from Oak Lone, Illinois, Ginger Eli 26, from Oak Lone, Illinois, SILVIA EVANS, 48, from Kissimmee, Florida, HOLLY STEGO, also known as “Holly Stego”, 29, from Missouri City, Texas, JESICA WAKA, 51, from Deerfield Beach, Florida. ANGELA BECO, 30, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, FRANK COSTELO, 44, of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, JO RUGA, 29, of Oak Lone, Illinois, MARY BACCO, 53, of Bridgeview, Illinois, also known as STEG Fonzi Serrano, 44, Orlando Park, Illinois, NICO RISTIC, 23, Orlando Park, Illinois, TONY RISTIC, also known as Anthony Walker, 52, Orlando, Florida, RACHEL MONTEGA, also known as Samantha Uo , 48, from Orlando, Florida, ROBERT CRAIG, also known as “Jake”, 37, from Lakeland, Florida, STEVE VEGA, also known as “Caksimist”, 45 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, SOFI BECHO, 46, of Fort Lauderdale, F Lorida, MARK BLANCA, 30, from Burbank, Illinois, DIANA LUMAS, 30, from Burbank, Or, Ricky Blanca, also known as Fontz Ristic, 48, from Orlando Park, Illinois, DAVID JENSON, also known as Tony , 52, from Lakeland, Florida, and JOHN JOHN, 66, from Arlington Heights, I Will.

The allegations allege that the defendants paid premiums on fraudulently obtained policies for two years, during which time the time limit for contesting expired, making it difficult for insurance companies to reject claims for death benefits. Fraudulent claims for death benefits will then be filed, using records that falsely identify another deceased person as an insured person, the indictment said. To support the fraudulent claims, the fraudsters received fake death certificates in the names of the insured and made false representations about the deceased to law enforcement, first aid services, medical staff, funeral home staff and cemetery staff, the indictment said. .

The public is reminded that the indictment is not proof of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial in which the government bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Any indictment is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. If convicted, the court must impose reasonable sentences under federal law and the U.S. Penal Advisory Guidelines.

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