The head of a small investment firm in South Florida has been charged with insurance fraud after filing for a $ 300,000 leak from the roof to his insurer, American International Group, along with alleged fake photos of mold and other damage to his house.
Michael DeJorge, 38, of Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, Florida, was arrested Tuesday after a lengthy investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’s Fraud Bureau. The arrest was announced Wednesday by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, head of DFS.
“Insurance fraud has no place in the state of Florida, and my fraud detectives are working hard on behalf of the Florida people to ensure that fraudsters are arrested and brought to justice,” Patronis said in a statement. “Unfortunately, schemes like these cause insurance premiums to rise and make home insurance inaccessible.”
DeGeorge and his lawyer could not be reached on Thursday. It seems to be well connected in South Florida. Records of the corporations of the Secretary of State of Florida show him as president of the MDeG Investment Group, based in the home in Jupiter, for which the request was made. And a jeweler who sold him a Rolex watch said DeGeorge belonged to a “very wealthy family,” according to an affidavit that detailed the investigation.
DeGeorge has also sued several contractors who built or worked on the luxury home, for which he has sued for leakage and mold insurance, according to court records and sworn arrest declarations. The complaint alleges that there are major problems with the house and mold that have affected the health of DeGeorge’s child.
Two defendants have asked the Palm Beach County Court to dismiss the lawsuit.
The arrest report explains how DeGeorge filed the insurance claim and how AIG investigators became suspicious. In January 2020, DeGeorge reported AIG’s problems, claiming that mold was present everywhere in his home due to a roof leak. It was so bad that he said his family had to move out of the house and he threw away a lot of his belongings.
AIG asked him to provide photos of the contents and the damage from mold, and DeGeorge provided about 300 photos, investigators said. The items DeGeorge listed in a spreadsheet included furniture, artwork, electronics, clothing, toys, curtains, rugs, and more.
But AIG officials, including AIG’s subrogation lawyer, noted that some things were not quite right. DeGeorge had filed a similar lawsuit against the property several years earlier, refused to inspect the contents, claimed to have discarded it, and provided photos of the alleged damage. AIG paid $ 196,413 in the previous lawsuit.
The AIG Special Investigation Unit found that the 2020 claim included some of the same elements listed in the previous request. And the analysis of the metadata of the photos showed that some were taken after he said he dumped the items, while other photos of structural damage were taken 18 months before the alleged date of loss, according to information about the arrest.
Some of the photos are from a real estate website, some appear to be from other properties, and others are those filed in the previous lawsuit, investigators said. Many images do not show water damage.
“Given these facts, Mr. DeGeorge made a material misrepresentation of AIG in support of his owner’s claim,” said an affidavit signed by DFS fraud detective Cassandra Grimmet.
DeGeorge also claims that the Rolex watch was valued at $ 35,000 and was so damaged that it had to be thrown away. The investigator interviewed the jeweler of Boca Raton, who sold him the watch. He said DeGeorge brought the watch to be evaluated in 2017, and did not explain why the evaluation was needed. The jeweler estimated it at $ 25,000 and shocked that everyone would throw away a Rolex – the diamonds themselves cost a lot.
DeGeorge and his wife did not appear under oath examination in 2021, and AIG denied most of the allegations. He had previously paid his living expenses when the family said they had left home.
In May 2021, AIG referred the case to the DFS Fraud Office.
DeGeorge was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Tuesday on $ 3,000 bail.
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