Insurance fraud is a really tough crime to prove, especially when scammers deliberately set fires. To show it's arson, all kinds of experts have to do painstaking analysis on burn patterns and chemical traces. It's incredibly time consuming and difficult.
That's assuming, of course, that the crooks aren't total morons who uses the same sooty, partially-burned furniture over and over again in their bogus house fires. Gustavo Diaz and his army of cohorts were morons.
Prosecutors say the 30-year-old Diaz masterminded an elaborate renter's insurance fraud along with five other plotters and an insurance adjuster named Alina Nunez.
Police were tipped off to the scheme by a confidential informant who outlined Diaz's plot: He and his confederates would find "straw renters" to pretend to rent an apartment and buy renter's insurance. They'd fill the place with thrift-store furniture and clothes, then let it sit for a while so it seemed the home was being lived in.
Then Diaz or another scammer would leave a candle next to an artificial plant, wait for a fire to start raging, and then file an insurance claim. They repeated the scheme multiple times around southern Dade and Homestead, prosecutors say.
Once detectives examined claims from the various fires, they quickly realized that Diaz's cheapness had done in his scheme. Behold:
Yep, that's the same bed, burned over and over again. And here's another:
That dresser sure looks familiar ... But here's our favorite repeat offender:
Yep, they even hung the same framed photos from the wall. Want to bet those are just the pictures that came in the frame?
You'd think a gang that was regularly bilking insurance companies out of six-figure settlements could afford to buy a new load of Goodwill furniture every time they rented a new apartment.
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Then again, the whole point of insurance fraud is not having to do real work.
Diaz, Nunez and eighteen other defendants all face multiple felony fraud charges.