Arson-for-profit crew arrested, accused of setting SWFL homes on fire

Published: May 18, 2018 9:41 PM EDT
Updated: May 18, 2018 10:12 PM EDT

Tenants accused of torching homes across Florida are now behind bars. Investigators say they hit SWFL homes too.

Two homes associated with the group went up in flames in 2009 and 2014 near Golden Gate, and one in Cape Coral in 2010. The flames caused about $90,000 in damage to the properties.

Six accused members of the arson-for-profit ring were arrested Friday and now face charges for intentionally setting fire the rental homes across SWFL and making over $180,000 as a result.

Officials say the group would put clothing and furniture inside the homes to make it look like someone was living there, and then set it on fire.

“It’s definitely not fair and hopefully they can keep people from doing it in the future,” said Naples resident Joe Pinto.

Officials say the group would rent properties, get renter’s insurance, and then burn the properties down. Investigators say they would make it look like an accident.

“It wasn’t your typical gasoline doused all over the home or obvious accelerant use in these homes. They were definitely conducted in a manner where these fires don’t look suspicious,” said Jon Moore, with Florida’s financial services department.

Archives show candles on a night stand started a fire on NE 7th Place in Cape Coral. Walther and Gennie Lainez said the same thing about a house that burned down in Golden Gate back in 2009, according to the man who rented the home to them.

The crew also targeted a Collier County home on Pine Cone Lane in 2014, and four other homes in the Miami area.

Moore says criminals like this group are likely to hurt your wallet.

“Insurance fraud’s one of the factors that plays a large role in driving insurance rates,” he said.

“Somebody is trying to get away with something that affects other people. (It) is not right, so hopefully they can find ways to keep it from happening so everybody’s insurance rates can remain lower,” Pinto added.