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Uncovering fraud

Apr 11, 2014
by Carrie Pack Chowske

Turns out 2013 was a pretty good year for Detective Dwight Murphy — and a bad year for criminals trying to defraud insurance companies in the state of Florida. 

Murphy, a 2011 graduate from Flagler’s Public Administration program, helped uncover several cases of fraud in Florida, including an infamous St. Augustine-based Ponzi scheme and a Jacksonville-based network of criminals staging car accidents to falsely file insurance claims. 
 
His work earned him two awards from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and special recognition from the office of the Florida Chief Financial Officer, as well as a nomination for Officer of the Year from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
 
As a Lead Detective with the Florida Department of Financial Services in the Division of Insurance Fraud’s Jacksonville office, Murphy investigates personal injury protection fraud in 20 northeast Florida counties. He’s investigated everything from faked automobile accidents to forged life insurance policies, some of which have turned into multi-million-dollar fraud cases. 
 
One memorable case involved a woman trying to obtain life insurance on her ailing father. She forged his name on the policy, and he died a few days later. Murphy’s office was asked by the insurance company to investigate. 
 
“People don’t think, ‘Wow, they’re going to figure that out,’ ” Murphy said. “The person who committed that crime was an auditor for the IRS.”
 
Sometimes the investigations are a bit more involved, though.
 
One of his awards from the U.S. Attorney’s Office was for a two-year-long investigation of Lydia Cladek, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in a $100 million Ponzi scheme. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $34 million in restitution.
 
“That case was amazing,” Murphy said. “People would just give money to someone and even after they found out she had ripped them off, they’d say, ‘I know she’s a bad lady and she’s a criminal, but I’d still give her money today.’ ” 
 
Murphy says that investigations require a lot of people skills and business sense. That’s why he chose the Public Administration program.
 
“Nowadays you really have to sell yourself,” he said. “You’re always going to have certain things you need in law enforcement [like grant writing and other skills]. It’s needed for a cop to do his job more effectively and efficiently.”
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