Jeff Atwater: Arson Ring Used Renters to Make False Claims
Twenty people in South Florida have been charged as part of a criminal ring accused of making false insurance claims after torching rental homes, declared the state fire marshal’s office, state attorney’s office in Miami-Dade County and the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (the fire marshal’s office is under Atwater) announced the arrests as part of his weekly roundup on Friday.
“At the center of the ring was an individual who orchestrated the participants renting 10 different homes, setting fire to those homes and collecting more than $1.5 million in insurance claims,” Atwater’s release stated. “These individuals will be charged with more than 300 felony counts, with one of the key conspirators being charged with 39 felony counts alone.”
The joint investigation, under the title Operation Candlelight, found 12 house fires that have taken place since 2007 where organizers would recruit people to rent homes, filling the property with stolen or thrift shop furniture, then set a candle next to a plant or another object in order to give the appearance of an accidental fire.