Volume 8 Number 24 June 17, 2011

Dear Fellow Floridians:

A recent article featured on Bloomberg.com called “Economic Stagnation Explained, at 30,000 Feet” offered an interesting perspective on our government’s inflated regulation of businesses. The article raises an interesting question about whether a more invisible government would create a healthier climate for business.

Taxes and regulations place a hefty a burden on small businesses and corporations wanting to do business in Florida. We have to make it easier to do business by taking a fresh look at every regulation. The Pacific Research Institute ranks Florida’s regulatory climate worse than 44 other states; this is simply an unacceptable ranking. Regulations grow and spread like weeds—if we don’t work to cut them back, they choke off every productive effort. International Business Roundtable led by CFO AtwaterA thriving business community can help lead the way to recovery in our state.

One of my goals as CFO is to continuously meet with business owners across the state to help develop initiatives that will create a more business-friendly environment. Removing regulatory barriers and coming up with innovative ideas for helping new and existing businesses grow is key to our economic success. Government must be the champion of business, not stifle growth with unfair regulations, cumbersome processes and oppressive taxes.

Sincerely,

Jeff





Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


State of Emergency Declared Due to Wildfires and Drought around the State

State Fire MarshalThis week, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in light of the rampant wildfires and drought throughout our state. The Division of Forestry has been working around the clock to help fight the fires that have burnt 115,583 acres thus far. Our State Fire Marshal’s office has been in constant communication with the division and is ready to assist if necessary. Be sure to stay clear of these wildfires and identify safety zones and escape routes if necessary.


Division of Insurance FraudNational Fraud Prosecutor of the Year Honored

At the Cabinet meeting Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater sponsored a resolution recognizing Assistant State Attorney Joe Licandro from the Office of State Attorney Angela B. Corey, 4th Judicial Circuit in Jacksonville, as the National Fraud Prosecutor of the Year. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud selected Joe from a list of nominees who were submitted from across the country.

Cabinet resolution presented to Joe LicandroFrom left to right: Lt. Kevin Jones, DFS Division of Insurance Fraud; John Askins, Director of DFS Division of Insurance Fraud; AG Bondi; Governor Scott; Joe Licandro; Capt. Brian McCoy, DFS Division of Insurance Fraud; CFO Jeff Atwater and Commissioner Putnam.

Joe was assigned to be the dedicated insurance fraud prosecutor for the 19-county region in north Florida in 2009. Since his assignment, there has been a dramatic increase in arrests, convictions, restitution, and the amount of investigative costs recovered. More recently, Joe racked up impressive convictions in a variety of fraud cases and is credited with taking down an auto glass company that filed nearly 1,000 bogus claims.

Joe has received recognition for his collaborative efforts in reaching out to other state and federal law enforcement agencies to assist them with investigating and prosecuting fraud cases.


Flag Day poster

Flag Day Commemorates the Adoption of the U.S. Flag

George Washington said, ‎"We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity, representing our liberty."

Flag Day is a day for all Americans to celebrate our great flag. It represents our freedom and our unity as a nation.

This week we celebrated all that our flag represents and remember those who have died protecting it.

 Poster commemorating the 140th Flag Day on June 14, 1917.


Insurance FraudCFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrest of North Carolina Man in $2.7 Million Workers’ Compensation Insurance Scam

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced on Monday the arrest of a North Carolina man in a $2.7 million workers’ compensation insurance scam. Carl Delmas Fuller, of Wake Forest, N.C., was charged Friday with mail and wire fraud for scamming a Highlands County employment services company with a fake workers’ compensation insurance policy.

“Fraud scams like this jeopardize the stability of our economy and slow the growth of Florida’s businesses,” said CFO Atwater. “We will not sit by and let scam artists and thieves rob Florida businesses and taxpayers out of their hard-earned money.”

An investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, found that National Employment Services (NES), located in Avon Park, believed that they had purchased required workers’ compensation coverage through a North Carolina insurance agent by the name of David Walters, doing business as Southeast Services Incorporated. NES provided proof that they had paid Southeast Services more than $2.7 million in workers’ compensation premiums for which Walters issued multiple certificates of insurance.

Further investigation revealed the company named as the carrier of the policy had no agent by the name of David Walters, no affiliation with an entity by the name of Southeast Services, Inc., and they had never received any type of premium payments from or on behalf of NES. Bank records revealed that the business address used by Southeast Services was a private mailbox in Myrtle Beach, S.C., owned exclusively by Carl Delmas Fuller.

Employees of the mailbox business and the North Carolina bank, where NES checks made out to Southeast Services were transported and deposited, positively identified Fuller as the sole owner of the Southeast Services mailbox and bank account. Analysis of the checking account determined that no premium payments were made or forwarded to any insurance company and that hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid out directly to Fuller.

The Department of Financial Services’ investigation was assisted by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If convicted, Fuller faces up to 20 years in prison.

Anyone with information regarding suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Individuals who provide tips can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $250,000 to approximately 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.


Hurricane Season: Are you prepared?

Flood Insurance Is a Necessary Protection

Your home is one of your most valuable investments. Are you confident that this investment is properly protected? Flood damage is not covered under your traditional homeowner’s insurance policy and must be purchased as a separate policy. All flood insurance policies are underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and, as a result, the cost for flood insurance is the same.

It is a common misconception among renters that there is no need to purchase flood insurance. It is quite the opposite; if the owner of the property has flood insurance, it does not mean that your possessions are covered. Discuss your current insurance policy with your insurance agent to ensure that your residence has the necessary flood insurance protection. For additional information, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.