Money for Nothing: South Florida woman loses thousands of dollars in insurance scam

(WSVN) - She filed her taxes and was hoping to get a refund, but instead, she got a letter saying she owed the IRS. As the Nightteam’s Patrick Fraser reports, it’s a scam we call “Money for Nothing.”

Many South Floridians are excited to file their tax returns knowing a refund is on the way, and then there is Josette Cazzau.

Josette Cazzau, tax refund seized again: “Not me. I am so not excited for tax season.”

For three straight years, Josette has not gotten a refund because of a health insurance scam.

Josette Cazzau: “Actually, the agent from the Marketplace. Unknown agent, destroying my life indirectly.”

The Health Insurance Marketplace is a state and federal program to help people afford health insurance.

If you make below a certain income, the government gives you a tax credit to cover all or part of your insurance premiums, and that’s where Josette got ripped off.

Josette Cazzau: “I didn’t give anybody authorization.”

Josette gets health insurance through her job and doesn’t need the Marketplace, but someone claimed she didn’t earn much money and enrolled her in the Marketplace in 2016 and 2017.

Josette Cazzau: “I called the Marketplace. I requested someone to look at the fraud, and nobody ever contacted me.”

The crook enrolled her again in 2018.

Josette Cazzau: “I can see it’s the same agent doing the same thing, and I don’t even know this person.”

Now, when Josette fills out her tax return, it will show her actual income, and for the third straight year, the IRS will seize her refund to recoup the costs for Marketplace insurance she did not apply for and didn’t use.

Josette Cazzau: “I’m looking at about a good $2,000 every year I have to return to the IRS.”

Who would create these fake accounts for people who don’t need them and won’t use them?

Crooks.

Why do it?

Because they get paid a couple of hundred dollars in commission each year for each person they enroll in the government-subsidized health insurance.

Willie Holmes, Secure and Reliable Insurance Solutions: “Because it’s been happening ever since I’ve been in the business.”

Willie Holmes is one of the honest agents who said not only do the crooks create phony accounts, they also put their names on his clients’ forms for insurance to take the commission away from him.

Willie Holmes: “Probably 50 to 100 different times throughout the years I’ve found someone else’s name in there.”

We tracked down the agent who submitted applications for Josette.

Jean, as he called himself, told us he drops off blank forms at different businesses and picks them up when they are filled out.

Josette said she has never heard of Jean and didn’t fill out the form.

Proof?

Her email address and Social Security Number are both wrong.

We wanted to interview the man claiming to be Jean.

He told us he was out of town but would call when he got back.

He then stopped returning our calls.

Willie Holmes: “He got her information some kind of way. I don’t know how he would do that.”

We contacted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about people like Josette getting ripped off.

A spokesperson wrote, “CMS will continue to monitor and remove any agents and brokers who are out of compliance with CMS rules from access to the Exchange and help all consumers affected.”

Josette Cazzau: “Somebody is actually making money out of your life.”

Pardon Josette if she is skeptical the crook who costs her thousands will ever be caught and is convinced many other South Floridians will be shocked when they try to get a tax refund this year as well.

Josette Cazzau: “Tax season is coming up. There will be more victims.”

More victims who will pay for insurance they don’t need.

Pay that money for nothing.

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