Volume 1 Number 48
November 29, 2004










TEXT VERSION

While you are out shopping this holiday season, remember to check your list twice – be careful with your personal financial information and how much you are spending. 

It’s the time of year when the holiday spirit can lead us to give too much.  There are people out there looking to take advantage of that giving spirit.  Bogus solicitations can come over the phone, in the mailbox or through the Internet.  See the story below for more details.

But also be careful not to victimize yourself.  Don’t strain your budget.  The department has launched a public education campaign, Your Money Your Life, that can help you manage your finances so that you can enjoy the real reason for the holiday. 

My best,

 

 

The skyline for November is the beautiful city of Lakeland in Polk County.

 


 

 

 


BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY DUE TO BAD WEATHER

Before taking off to join family for turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie, several members of the Department of Financial Services’ staff went out of their way to save the holiday for many state employees. 

The Division of Accounting and Auditing produces bi-weekly payroll checks for universities that do not yet run their own payroll.  On Monday, those checks were shipped via Federal Express.  The bi-weekly payday was on Wednesday.   

But on Tuesday, Federal Express reported that bad weather had grounded the airplane at its Memphis hub.  The University of North Florida, University of West Florida and Florida International University requested assistance in getting replacement paychecks.   

The staff from the divisions of Accounting and Auditing and Information Systems re-issued checks, and two employees -- Hal Foy, financial administrator in the Bureau of Accounting, and Allen Reams, chief of the Bureau of Accounting, delivered the checks. 

Also helping in the holiday spirit were Marvin Naiman, Bureau of State Payrolls, Ron Ricks, Division of Information Systems, Sally Martin, Division of Information Systems, Freida Ritter, Division of Information Systems and Tommy Lawhon, Division of Information Systems.

Many thanks to these dedicated workers and to all employees who go beyond the call of duty.
 


 

 

 


THEFT

GALLAGHER TO CONSUMERS: BEWARE OF FINANCIAL SCAMS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

The holiday season is the time of year when the spirit of joy and giving is in the air.  Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when scam artists often take advantage of the giving spirit.  Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is urging consumers to be extra cautious with their money to avoid financial scams.

“Take steps to protect your personal and financial information from identity theft this holiday season, especially if you are making purchases online or over the phone,” Gallagher said.  “Scam artists who get ahold of your sensitive information can wreak havoc with your finances.” 

Consumers shopping online should also take extra precautions to avoid identity theft, the nation’s fastest growing crime.  Deal only with reputable companies and take steps to secure your personal and financial information.  Gallagher said consumers often contact the state reporting they have been unable to find physical addresses or phone numbers for online businesses.  Some reported scams have resulted from transactions with overseas businesses.  “Remember, a company based outside the country is outside of our laws,” Gallagher said.  CONTINUED

 


 

 

 

MORATORIUM ON INSURANCE CANCELLATIONS EXTENDED TO DEC. 31ST FOR HOMES NOT YET REPAIRED

Action by Gov., Cabinet anticipates additional legislation

Governor Jeb Bush and members of Florida’s Cabinet approved an emergency rule banning insurance companies from canceling or non-renewing insurance policies for hurricane victims whose homes have yet to be repaired. State Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher recommended the rule to protect thousands of Floridians still waiting for storm repairs who would be uninsurable if they lost their insurance coverage.

“We recognize that many homeowners are being told there is a substantial waiting list for repairs, due to a shortage of contractors,” Gallagher said. “Without this protection, homeowners who lost their insurance coverage would be uninsurable. I applaud the governor and my fellow Cabinet members for making sure that storm victims have property protection.” CONTINUED
 

 

 

ARREST MADE IN ATTEMPTED MURDER BY FIREBOMBING

After a four-month investigation, investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, arrested Shawn David Miller 26, for his involvement in the apparent attempted murder in July of seven people by firebombing at an occupied residence located at 811 Neuse Ave. All of the occupants escaped uninjured.

The investigation found that Miller and several of his friends threw several Molotov cocktails at the residence when they knew or should have known it would be occupied by seven people, including a 10-month-old baby. Part of the crime was captured by a video camera a neighbor had installed. The video showed several firebombs being thrown at the front porch of the residence and a vehicle parked in front of the residence being set on fire and pushed toward the house.  CONTINUED
 

 

 

EMPLOYER OF WORKERS KILLED AT JULY CONSTRUCTION-SITE ACCIDENT CHARGED WITH FRAUD

The employer of two workers killed in a July construction accident on a Hobe Sound work site has been arrested and charged with workers’ compensation fraud, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has announced.

According to investigators with the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud, Richard Meccariello, Jr., 39, of 3934 Sherwood Blvd. in Delray Beach was accused of failing to provide workers’ compensation coverage, a third-degree felony. 

“When workers show up to perform a job, they deserve to be protected in case they get injured.  This terrible accident is a perfect example of why workers’ compensation is so important,” said Gallagher, who oversees DFS.  “Employers who don’t protect their workers will be held accountable.”  CONTINUED


 

 

CLINIC OWNER, ‘PATIENTS’ FACE  INSURANCE FRAUD CHARGES

A dozen individuals suspected of organizing or participating in staged crashes and filing false insurance claims were arrested by insurance fraud investigators with the Department of Financial Services on insurance fraud charges. 

These individuals were charged under a new law that took effect October 1, 2003, that made organizing or participating in a staged crash punishable by a statutory minimum sentence of two years and as many as 15 years in prison.  In a staged crash, organizers and unscrupulous clinic owners target the personal injury protection (PIP) insurance of drivers, and bill on average up to the maximum $10,000 benefit per insured. 

 “PIP fraud dramatically drives up the cost of automobile insurance, making it harder for Floridians to afford the coverage Florida law requires them to carry,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “The law targeting staged crash organizers has helped our investigators and prosecutors successfully pursue these scam artists.”  CONTINUED