TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor announced today that a Pennsylvania man has been charged with filing nearly $50,000 in fraudulent insurance claims for items purportedly lost or stolen while he was traveling around the country.
Robert Cirino, 36, of Reading, Pennsylvania, was indicted on charges of second-degree insurance fraud and third-degree theft by deception in connection with five fraudulent claims he allegedly filed seeking payouts on homeowners or renters insurance policies on properties in Jersey City, Newark, and Elizabeth. The charges were contained in an indictment handed up by a state grand jury in Trenton on Thursday.
“Submitting false claims on your homeowners or renters insurance policy to receive undeserved compensation is not only a crime, it drives up premiums and forces honest policy holders to pay more to insure their properties,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor is working every day to root out claims fraud and hold perpetrators accountable.”
Cirino is charged with submitting five fraudulent claims to Travelers Insurance between September 2015 and February 2017. Cirino, who often claimed that traveled with a wheelchair and oxygen because he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sought insurance coverage for:
- A collapsible wheelchair, a book bag containing a MacBook Pro laptop computer, $500 cash, credit cards, a cell phone case, and a toiletry kit containing medication purportedly lost on a Miami Airport terminal bus when the bus driver drove off before he could retrieve his belongings.
- A wheelchair, a book bag containing $800 cash, credit cards, an iPhone cellular telephone, an oxygen compressor, and medication purportedly stolen when a cab driver drove off with his belongings in Baltimore.
- An iPad tablet computer, medication, $1,000 cash, and clothing purportedly left by him on a train in Chicago and gone when he went to retrieve them.
- A motorized wheel chair, an oxygen condenser, an insulin pump and insulin, an iPad Pro tablet computer, and a book bag purportedly stolen when two men he accepted a ride from in Charlotte, NC, drove away with his belongings while he was using an ATM machine.
- Six MacBook Pro laptop computers he purchased as Christmas gifts purportedly stolen from the garage of a family member he was staying with in Chicago.
“We allege this defendant used his insurance provider like an ATM that would provide him with money any time he filed a fraudulent claim,” said Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy M. Thompson. “As this indictment shows, this kind of blatant criminal greed and exploitation of the insurance system will not be tolerated in New Jersey.”
According to the indictment, Cirino, who also uses the names Rafael Diaz, Michael Cirino, Christopher Sanchez, and Robert Cirino, provided fraudulent receipts, invoices and other documents in support of the fraudulent claims. Travelers Insurance paid out $27,700 on two claims but denied three others.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
Deputy Attorney General Crystal Callahan presented the case to the grand jury. Detectives Amy Carson and John Cicchino coordinated the investigation. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson thanked the National Insurance Crime Bureau for its assistance in the case, and Travelers Insurance for referring the matter to OIFP.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.njinsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.
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