Florida Man Arrested for Stealing Nearly $100,000 in Insurance Claims from Elderly Hurricane Sandy Victims

The Florida Division of Insurance Fraud announced this month the arrest of a Naples, Florida man, Daniel T. Phelps.  Phelps allegedly stole two insurance claim payments totaling over $96,000 from an elderly New Jersey business owner who shortly after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, sustained damage to his business.

George Capuzzi had filed an insurance claim as a result Hurricane Sandy. However, he suffered from health-related issued and was in need of assistance with the filing of the hurricane insurance claim for his business. Considering Capuzzi’s need for assistance, a mutual friend referred Daniel Phelps to Capuzzi as someone who could assist him the claims filing process.

The Division of Insurance Fraud received information demonstrating that Phelps had stolen two checks from Capuzzi who was awaiting an insurance disbursement to make the necessary repairs to re-open his business in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Phelps took advantage of the elderly business owner and re-directed the delivery of the insurance claim checks to his girlfriend’s home in Naples. Once mailed, Phelps took a trip to South Florida. After receiving the checks, Phelps fraudulently endorsed Capuzzi’s name. Phelps attempted to mask the fraudulent deposit by utilizing his step-brother’s driver’s license to deposit the checks into a joint bank account. He then transferred the funds out of the joint account into his personal bank account, where he used the money at will.

During the following three months, the Department of Insurance Fraud said Phelps spent the $96,000 on a new Jaguar car, a trip to Key West, a boat, and Lasik eye surgery. As of today, due to Phelps’s fraud George Capuzzi’s business has not re-opened.

Earlier this month, Phelps was picked up at the Broward County Health Center on charges of grand theft, scheming to defraud, and criminal use of personal ID. Phelp’s case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney.