Dear Fellow Floridian:
On Tuesday, I stood alongside Governor Scott here in the state’s
Capitol, where our laws are made, to call on our lawmakers to fix
Florida’s auto insurance system. After meeting with consumers across
the state, I came back to Tallahassee with one conclusion - the cost
of auto insurance has skyrocketed and Floridians can’t take it much
We have called on the Legislature with the support of Senators
Joe Negron and Garrett Richter, and Representatives Jim Boyd,
Dorothy Hukill and Bryan Nelson to address four key areas that will
go a long way in driving down rates for Florida’s consumers.
- Fraud Prevention: Florida leads the nation in fake
accidents. Organized fraud rings and criminal enterprises are gaming the system
and we all pay.
- Litigation Reform: From 2006 to 2010, PIP-related lawsuits
pending at year-end increased by 387 percent. Attorney fees often far exceed the
value of the $10,000 coverage and the damage amounts in dispute.
- Utilization and Provider Reform: Honest consumers are
footing the bill for fake procedures at fake clinics, and we can’t throw these
fraudsters in jail fast enough! Insurance should cover medical treatment for
real injury; our current system is covering multiple treatments for individuals
who were never injured.
- Accountability: Every insurance company in this state will
either reduce rates or have to answer to me in a public forum to explain to
their customers why they have failed them.
our state’s auto insurance system has been over taken by a circling pool of
piranha - fraud clinics, lawyer referral services and organized crime - that
have been making their millions on the backs of every Floridian with a car on
These reforms have one simple goal - to reduce the cost of auto
insurance for Florida’s consumers - on behalf of the consumers of
this state who have been burdened by an auto insurance system with
seemingly ever-rising rates.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
On Passing the Repeal of the Three Percent Withholding
CFO Jeff Atwater on Thursday released the following statement
regarding the U.S. House of Representatives passing of HR 674 to
repeal the three percent withholding requirement. The repeal
bill has now passed both chambers of Congress and is on its way
to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“The threat of a three percent withholding tax has put a strain on the
American entrepreneur. Today, our leaders have done the right thing by voting to
repeal this burdensome backdoor tax increase,” said CFO Atwater. “In these
challenging economic times, Americans do not have one more dime to give to
government. It is my hope that the White House will sign this bill into law and
stop shortening the leash on the American dream.”
Protecting Those Who Protect Us
This week, I had the honor of participating in a roundtable
with national and state leaders on military and veterans issues,
Petraeus, Director of the Office of Servicemember Affairs, to
find ways to combat fraud targeted against military personnel.
As part of my Your Money Matter$ initiative, I have committed to
improving financial education for the more than 1.6 million
veterans and 58,000 active duty military stationed in Florida.
Left to right: CFO Atwater, Dir. Petraeus, AG
Wednesday's roundtable, held at the Naval Air Station in
Jacksonville, focused on scams, predatory lending products,
housing issues, financial education, payday loans and car buying
schemes targeting military personnel and veterans. Our military
service members have committed themselves to protecting and
securing our freedom. We are fighting back for those who fight
for us to ensure that here, in Florida, we are protecting them
from financial fraud and scams.
Florida’s Agency of the Year
CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) will be
recognized by the Department of Management Services’ (DMS)
Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD) as the State of Florida’s
Agency of the Year for supporting Florida’s minority business
community during the past fiscal year.
“This award affirms my department’s commitment to Florida’s small and
minority businesses - both vital components of Florida’s economy,” said CFO
Atwater. “We will continue to provide fair and open competition, while helping
businesses of all sizes partner with the State of Florida to provide the best
value to taxpayers. We are honored to receive this recognition from the Office
of Supplier Diversity.”
The distinguished award will be presented at the MatchMaker Conference on
Nov. 16 through 18, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The theme for the conference is
“Paving the Way: Jobs, Growth & Economic Revitalization in the Sunshine State.”
DFS will be honored as the only state agency to increase its minority spending
by more than $1 million, from $3,114,347 in FY 2009-10 to $4,620,129 in FY
2010-11 - a 48 percent increase.
OSD functions within DMS to improve business and economic opportunities for
Florida’s minority, women and service-disabled veteran business enterprises.
Three core functions of the OSD are:
- Certification of Business Enterprises:
State certification is Florida's premier stamp of approval for minority, women,
and service-disabled veteran business enterprises.
- Advocacy and Outreach: Serves as an
advocate and information resource for business owners, state agencies, vendors,
the public and other entities.
- MatchMaking: Activities designed to
build relationships between businesses and state agency purchasing specialists,
non-minority vendors and other decision makers.
Senior Annuity Scammer Arrested
CFO Atwater announced on Wednesday the arrest of Victor Edwin
Ruser, Sr., 59, of Kissimmee, for allegedly scamming nine
seniors between the ages of 80 and 94 out of over $650,000 in an
annuity fraud scheme. Ruser was charged with multiple felony
counts including exploitation of the elderly, grand theft and
perpetrating a scheme to defraud.
“Specifically targeting seniors to defraud them out of their life savings
will not be tolerated in Florida,” said CFO Atwater. “These seniors worked hard
their entire lives and trusted this individual with the dollars they responsibly
set aside for their retirement years. My office will continue to track down
these scammers and protect your hard-earned dollars.”
After the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Consumer
Services received a complaint from a victim, an investigation by the Division of
Insurance Fraud alleged that over a period of seven years Ruser aggressively
“churned” annuities of his senior clientele by talking them into terminating
their policies and then investing them into new accounts. This caused large
surrender charge penalties for the investors involved while Ruser earned
commissions on each transaction.
Ruser invested his clients’ money into TruVest, LLC and Alliance Life and
Investments Company accounts, which he solely owned and operated. Further
investigation revealed no insurance or investment vehicle within these companies
and all monies had been converted to Ruser’s personal use.
Ruser was booked into Osceola County Jail on Sunday and is being held with
bond set at $1.3 million. If convicted, he could face up to 205 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.