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Volume 2, No. 3 - April 2013

News You Can Use

- Updating you on what's going on

CFO Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi Announce Conviction of Senior Scammer for $2 Million Investment Fraud

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the conviction of former insurance agent Neal Seth Smalbach, 50, of Palm Harbor, for grand theft in misrepresenting details of financial products to more than 30 senior clients who suffered losses of more than $2 million in unsuitable financial investments.
Click here to read the press release >>

CFO Atwater Launches Operation S.A.F.E. with Be Scam Smart Workshops

In honor of Older Americans Month in May, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is launching Operation S.A.F.E., a new initiative to "Stop Adult Financial Exploitation" and turn the tables on fraud artists who target Florida's 4.4 million seniors. As a trusted advisor to your senior clients, you have an opportunity to help in this fight.

CFO Atwater is seeking to combat statistics that estimate at least one in five seniors has been a victim of financial fraud with this series of free workshops for seniors, their families and caregivers designed to teach them how to spot a scam, how scams work, and steps they can take to protect themselves.

"Our seniors contribute greatly to Florida's economy and as a result many have built a nest egg that makes them targets for fraud," said CFO Atwater. "It is my mission to ensure that they can better enjoy their retirement knowing they are armed with information to safeguard their finances."

The workshops, titled Be Scam Smart, are part of CFO Atwater's On Guard for Seniors initiative that he launched last year to educate seniors on specific financial products such as annuities, identity theft, reverse mortgages and long-term care insurance. Operation S.A.F.E. will focus on frauds and scams, such as fake lotteries and repair scams, and how these scams work on the psyche to convince us to take a chance on something we know or should know is too good to be true.

Initial workshops will be held in May in Cape Coral, Venice, Delray Beach, Clearwater, the Villages and Miami with other locations to be scheduled throughout the year.

The Operation S.A.F.E. workshops are being provided by the Department of Financial Services, which CFO Atwater oversees, and will be presented by representatives from the Department's Division of Consumer Services, Division of Agent and Agency Services, and Division of Insurance Fraud, and locally in partnership with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s Office, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, the Lee County Sheriff's Office, the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

"Be Scam Smart" workshops will be presented by investigators and fraud detectives from the Department of Financial Services who fight fraud every day in the Division of Consumer Services, Division of Agent and Agency Services, and Division of Insurance Fraud. The Division of Consumer Services offers education and a Consumer Helpline that last year answered more than 325,000 calls and recovered $22.6 million for Florida consumers. More than 70 percent of the Division of Agent and Agency Services' recoveries last year were on behalf of seniors, and the Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) is a statewide sworn law enforcement agency that is a national leader in fraud arrests.

Last year, DIF responded within 30 minutes to a South Florida woman who had already lost $9,000 and was about to withdraw $20,000 from an annuity to cover “taxes” for a fake lottery scam.

To learn more about Operation S.A.F.E. or register for a workshop, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/SAFE.

CFO Atwater Invites You to Learn More About 'Florida's Financial History' in Celebration of Viva Florida 500

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater released Florida's Financial History, a new website feature to celebrate Florida's 500th birthday. The interactive, online application tracks the growth of the state's diverse economy since Ponce de Leon first discovered "the land of flowers" all the way to the launch of Apollo 11 from Kennedy Space Center.
Click here to read the press release >>

CFO Atwater Announces Winners of Florida Students $ave Essay Contest Promoting Financial Planning Among High School Students

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the five top winners in the Florida Students $ave Essay Contest, a statewide contest held for Florida high school students to get them to think about the importance of planning for their economic futures. CFO Atwater announced the winners as part of Financial Literacy Month.
Click here to read the press release >>



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