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Volume 3, No. 2 - February 2014

News You Can Use

- Updating you on what's going on

CFO Atwater Helps Return More Than $253 Million to Consumers in 2013

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced that the Florida Department of Financial Services helped recover more than $253 million for Floridians during 2013. The recoveries were made possible by investigative and consumer-driven efforts led by the divisions of Agent and Agency Services and Consumer Services, along with the Bureau of Unclaimed Property.
Click here to read the press release >>

CFO Jeff Atwater Announces 14 Arrests After Investigation Known As 'Operation Flames and Floods' Exposes Multi-Million Dollar Insurance Fraud

CFO Atwater announced the arrests of 14 individuals following a joint investigation between the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Miami-Dade Police Department's Arson Unit. "Operation Flames and Floods," as it was termed upon its inception in November 2012, exposed an extensive scheme to defraud several insurance companies by staging fire and water damage claims to residential homes in Miami-Dade County, Lehigh Acres and Naples. The losses exceeded several million dollars after 13 homes were set on fire and five more reported.
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CFO Atwater Announces Two Arrests for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Fraud

CFO Atwater announced the arrests of Leonardo F. Marquez Garcia and Dayleann Marie Vallejo-Ruiz, of Miami and Orlando respectively, on charges of insurance fraud. An investigation by the Department of Financial Services' Division of Insurance Fraud revealed that Garcia would do supposed 'initial examinations' on crash victims and refer them to the Injury Rehabilitation Center for physical therapy treatments. Vallejo-Ruiz, the owner of the clinic and a licensed massage therapist, had patients sign blank treatment forms that were sent to the insurance company requesting payment for services never provided.
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CFO Atwater Announces 12 Arrests in Ongoing Fraud Investigation Known as 'Operation Leaky Pipes'

CFO Atwater announced that the ongoing insurance fraud investigation known as 'Operation Leaky Pipes' has led to the arrests of 12 Miami residents. The investigation uncovered a scheme between a licensed public adjuster and a plumber to coach homeowners on how to file fraudulent insurance claims for pre-existing or non-existent water damage. The homeowners filed fraudulent claims in an attempt to claim money for home remodeling.
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PIP Premiums Going Down for Most Florida Drivers

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) released a preliminary analysis of the rates submitted by the top 20 automobile insurance companies writing Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance and encompassing more than 75% of the Florida market. PIP insurance accounts for only a small portion (about 25%) of a consumer’s total auto insurance premium cost; therefore, a statewide average decrease of 13.2% in PIP will result in an overall reduction of 3-4% for a policyholder depending on the coverage purchased.
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Boca Raton Area Man Charged with Theft in Investment Scheme Resulting in $800,000 Loss to Investors

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) announced the arrest of Victor Bauza, 49, by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Bauza was charged by the Florida Office of Statewide Prosecution with securities violations, grand theft and organized scheme to defraud. The defendant allegedly solicited more than $800,000 from 20 investors to purchase shares of Medical Informatics Xchange (MIX).
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Seminole Man Arrested in $6 Million Ponzi Scheme

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center arrested David George Dreslin, 54, on charges of racketeering, conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity, three counts of sale of an unregistered security, three counts of sale of a security by an unregistered dealer, security fraud and organized fraud. Dreslin turned himself into the Pinellas County Jail Thursday afternoon. This was a joint investigation with the Office of Financial Regulation and FDLE. Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute the case.
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FSLSO Service Fee to Decrease from 0.2% to 0.175%

The Florida Surplus Lines Service Office (FSLSO) has issued a bulletin to notify surplus lines agents that the service fee charged by the FSLSO will be decreased from 0.2% to 0.175% effective April 1, 2014.

All new and renewal surplus lines policies/certificates with an effective date on or after April 1, 2014 will incur a service fee of 0.175% of the total gross premium as defined in 626.9325, Florida Statutes. All new and renewal surplus lines policies/certificates with an effective date prior to April 1, 2014 will incur a service fee of 0.2% of the total gross premium. The service fee percentage charged on the premium is based on the effective date of the policy. The FSLSO service fee is applicable to single state Florida policies only.

The service fee for all endorsements, audits, installments, cancellations or return of premium transactions applicable to policies/certificates effective prior to April 1, 2014 will be the same percentage as the inception date of the policy/certificate being endorsed.
Click here to read the FSLSO bulletin >>



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We highly recommend licensees to routinely check their MyProfile account(s) for messages from the Department. We send an email notification at the same time to remind you to check your MyProfile account but on rare occasions you may not receive that email. For that reason, we suggest you add our domain MyFloridaCFO.com to your email software's Trusted or Safe Senders List to ensure you are able to receive email notifications from us. Licensees who have a valid email address on file with the Department, as required by law, are sent important email notifications when something that affects their application, license, continuing education, or appointment(s) occurs. Additionally, we will keep you informed with warnings regarding new schemes and scams being marketed to licensees. You can update your contact information through your MyProfile account. We want to keep you informed in a timely manner of pertinent information. You are still required to abide by the Florida Insurance Code regardless of whether you read the information we provide or attempt to provide.