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State Farm filed a federal lawsuit in Florida last week against the founder of the 1-800-ASK-GARY accident referral service, accusing the company of "a massive fraud scheme."
The insurance company accuses Gary Kompothecras of fraud by taking advantage of no-fault insurance benefits that
often cover medical expenses for auto accident victims. State Farm says Kompthecras used 1-800-ASK-GARY to lure accident victims to his clinics, a violation of Florida law. The outcome of the case could affect the company's operations in Minnesota.
A lawyer for the referral service described State Farm's lawsuit as an "absurd action."
1-800-ASK -GARY is familiar to Minnesotans from its heavy advertising on buses, billboards, radio and television. The company also operates in Florida and Kentucky, which also have no-fault insurance laws. When someone is in a car accident, they can call 1-800-ASK-GARY and the company will refer accident victims to a chiropractor and often to a personal injury lawyer.
The lawsuit alleges the company never referred a patient to any health care providers other than Physicians Group in Florida. An attorney from Kentucky who is part of the referral network provided a sworn affidavit "confirming that Kompothecras required [personal injury] attorneys who received referrals from ASK GARY to refer their clients to Kompothecras-owned clinic for treatment."
State Farm is asking for a judgment declaring all outstanding claims between the insurance company and Physicians Group to be dissolved.
Kompothecras registered his company, Physicians Group, LLC, with Minnesota in 2007. Minnesota, like Florida, is also a no-fault state, which means people involved in a car accident in Minnesota are eligible for $20,000 in personal injury protection without having to go to court to determine who was at fault.
"The lawsuit filed by State Farm is a frivolous and malicious suit that has no merit and will be dismissed by the Court," Gregory Zitani, an attorney for Physicians Group, said in a statement. "This suit is a desperate act by State Farm, one of the largest and most profitable insurance companies, who owes Physicians Group over $9 million by its failure to pay over 1000 claims for medical costs incurred by its policy holders."
Zitani said some of State Farm's claims are relevant only to provisions of Florida law.
"Minnesota has its own rules with which Physicians Group and ASK GARY advertising are required to comply," Zitiani said. "With the assistance of local counsel, all such Minnesota laws are complied with by Physicians Group and ASK GARY."
Mark Kulda of the Minnesota Insurance Federation, a trade association that represents insurance companies, said when calling referral services like 1-800-ASK-GARY they may not be getting an unbiased referral.
"It's important to note that you may not be getting the referral that is most beneficial to you. You may be getting a referral that is most beneficial to that referral service," Kulda said. "No-Fault is set up so that it is easy to get medical care from a doctor you feel most comfortable with."
Kompothecras lives in Florida and in 2011 was named as a co-chair of Mitt Romney's Florida finance team, according to Bloomberg.
Have you called 1-800-ASK-GARY or any other accident referral service in Minnesota? We want to hear about your experience. Call 612.673.4028 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A construction company that is helping restore the State Capitol is making progress on efforts to hire more women and minorities, four months after it got a failing grade from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey met with JE Dunn’s new diversity manager Monday and was briefed on JE Dunn’s progress, including working closely with its sub-contractors.
“We are pleased with JE Dunn’s good faith efforts to improve their workforce participation,” Lindsey said in a statement.
According to the Department of Human Rights, JE Dunn's "good faith effort" plan include:
In March, JE Dunn was the only company failing to meet “good faith efforts” established by the state to diversify its workforce on state-funded projects. There are no companies currently failing compliance.
A California man has been banned from selling work-at-home opportunities after he misled his customers or didn’t give them any information at all, the Federal Trade Commission announced Monday.
Christopher A. Sterling, doing business as sterlingvisa.com, rebatedataprocessor.com and creditcardworker.com is also banned from selling other business opportunities covered by the FTC's Business Opportunity Rule.
Sterling falsely claimed that by paying him at least $50, a customer could make $75,600 per year processing as few as 15 applications daily for rebates or credit cards, according to an FTC complaint.
Whistleblower has been on the trail of Rachel from Cardholder Services for years. Rachel has been the voice behind millions of illegal robocalls made over the years, pitching credit card rate reductions.
Now, the companies and people behind one robocalling scheme that used the voice of "Rachel" from "Cardholder Services" and charged up-front fees for services never provided must surrender their assets and stop scheming, according to an announcement by the Federal Trade Commission Friday.
Several companies and two individuals, all associated with the Florida company A+ Financial Center, made millions of illegal robocalls offering to obtain a reduction in the credit card interest rate consumers were paying.
The companies called phone numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry and collected upfront fees of between $495 and $1,595 by promising rates as low as zero percent, the FTC said.
"The defendants did little if anything to help consumers lower their credit card interest rates," the FTC said.
The group is banned from robocalling, trying to sell debt relief services and making misrepresentations related to any sales attempts. The defendants may not try to collect money from past victims.
A $9.2 million judgment was entered against A+ Financial Center, LLC, Christopher L. Miano and Dana M. Miano and a handful of other businesses managed by the Mianos. The judgment will be suspended once they turn over all but $25,000 of their assets, including a 2007 Mercedes Benz Cl and two boats worth a total of about $62,000.
The original complaint was filed by the FTC in October in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the district in which the Mianos resided.
Are you moving to a new city? Moving across town, but have limited mobility? Don't be fooled by bogus apartment rental scams, the Federal Trade Commission warns.
Here's how the scams work:
Scammers clone legitimate rental listings and alter them to include different contact information. They then place the modified ads in newspapers and online. Scammers also create listings for rentals that don't exist or aren't available.
When a person agrees to rent and wires money to the scammers, they have just kissed that money goodbye.
"Never wire money or send a check to someone you've never met for an apartment you've never seen," the FTC advised.
Run from high-pressure sales tactics and consider that the better the deal the more likely it is to be a scam, the commission said.
Landlords can also get scammed when a bogus renter sends a fake check to secure the rental. The check is for more than the agreed-upon amount and the scammer tells the landlord to cash the check and wire the difference back to the renter. Later, when the check comes back as fake, the landlord is left having to repay the bank, the FTC said.
If you wired money and then realized you've been taken, call the money transfer company to report the fraud. You can also file a complaint with the FTC.
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