It's a scam that involves one man, several women and the illusion of love.
Jan Bodon with the US Postal Service explained how these ladies were lured into the scheme.
"When people think they are in love with somebody, their judgment is clouded. That is why the romance scam works," said Bodon.
That's why authorities say Derrick Jimerson was able to manipulate several women into becoming his unwitting accomplices in an elaborate car insurance scam, according to Bodon.
"He told these ladies that he used to be an ex-Cowboy player. He said he had some trouble with the IRS and that was the reason he couldn't purchase vehicles himself," Bodon explained.
Jimerson gave the women money to buy cars for him but persuaded them to purchase and insure the vehicles in their names.
"Eventually he would call the ladies and say, 'I had an accident in your car,'" Bodon said. "'You have to call the insurance company. This is how the accident happened.'"
He would give them very detailed information.
"A lot of these ladies didn't feel comfortable doing that, but he told them, 'You have to report the accident yourself because the car is in your name and the coverage is in your name,'" Bodon said.
A chiropractor was a partner in the scheme.
"The deal was the chiropractor would get half of the proceeds. Mr. Jimerson would get the other half of the proceeds. Mr. Jimerson would provide the identifiers and the information to the chiropractor and the chiropractor would then go ahead and complete the medical forms," Bodon said.
Insurance companies lost more than $700,000 in this scam until adjustors began asking questions.
"He thought, 'I'm insulating myself by having an accomplice be the one that is providing the fraudulent details to the insurance company,'" Bodon said.
He also didn't count on any of the women learning about the other women.
"Some of these ladies thought they were the one and only girlfriend, and it became a surprise when they saw the other defendants and realized 'Wait, I'm a part of the five or six other ladies,'" Bodon said.
Jimerson was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau ranks Florida as one of the top five states for fishy auto insurance claims. Here are some helpful links to learn how to protect yourself from scams and how to report them if you do fall victim:
- Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission
- Warning signs of a romance scam
- Coalition Against Insurance Fraud
- Bankrate.com's story on auto insurance scams
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