Dear Fellow Floridian:
Florida’s seniors have worked their whole lives to save and build a nest
egg for their families, and I want to make sure their finances are protected
from anyone who might target them. In order to combat fraud against our
seniors, I’ve launched a statewide financial education initiative, known as
Operation S.A.F.E., to “Stop Adult Financial Exploitation” and the
fraudsters who target Florida’s seniors.
Through a series of free “Be Scam Smart” workshops hosted across the state,
our team will explain how and why seniors are targeted for fraud and provide you
with tips and resources to fight back. Local law enforcement and community
agencies that serve seniors will also be on site at the workshops to provide
Statistics show that nearly one in five seniors has fallen victim to
financial fraud, and seniors are the least likely population to report fraud to
the proper authorities. These workshops offer seniors access to valuable
resources and information that will help them safeguard their finances.
Be Scam Smart workshops are open to seniors, family members, caregivers and
anyone else who wants to help inform, empower and protect against financial
scams and fraud that can devastate your hard earned savings. I encourage
everyone to sign up for a workshop near you to learn how to protect your
families’ financial security.
For a schedule of workshops or registration materials, visit
www.MyFloridaCFO.com/SAFE or call the CFO’s Consumer Helpline at
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Tropical Storm Karen Threatens Florida
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater is urging you to
monitor storm alerts and prepare to take steps to “Protect Your Home Base” if
Tropical Storm Karen threatens
Make sure your family, home and business are secure not only structurally but
also financially, and be alert for possible scam artists, including contractors
and adjusters, in the aftermath of the storm. Make sure to verify licensure,
refuse to pay cash up front and read through any contracts thoroughly before
The Department of Financial Services’
Protect Your Home Base website has information on securing your
property before a disaster and recovering afterwards. For assistance on any
insurance matter including filing an insurance claim, call the Consumer Helpline
at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236).
Scammer Convicted in $1 Million Financial Fraud Scheme
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater on Wednesday announced the
conviction of Ronald J. Perrault, 42, on grand theft and organized scheme to
defraud charges associated with a $1 million financial fraud scheme
involving an 82-year-old Bradenton woman. Perrault is scheduled for
sentencing on December 4, 2013, and faces up to 35 years in prison.
An investigation begun by the Florida Department of Financial Services’
Division of Agent and Agency Services and referred to the Division of Insurance
Fraud revealed that Perrault, while acting as an unlicensed financial advisor
for the 82-year-old victim, defrauded her of $727,000 during the last five years
and more than $1,000,000 throughout the course of their business relationship.
In May, CFO Atwater launched Operation S.A.F.E., a new initiative to
“Stop Adult Financial Exploitation” and the fraudsters who target Florida’s
seniors. As part of this initiative, Be Scam Smart workshops are being held
across the state in the month of October. To learn more and register for a
free workshop, please visit
Anyone with information involving suspected insurance fraud is asked to
call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The
Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $342,000 to more
than 50 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program
rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an
arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
'Operation Dirty Money' Leads to More Arrests
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater on Tuesday announced the
arrest of Nassar Faraj Hasan, 27, owner of a Tampa money service business,
as part of a continuing enforcement effort known as "Operation Dirty Money."
Hasan allegedly failed to appropriately document multiple business
transactions as required by Florida Statutes. These deficiencies were
identified during an examination by the Office of Financial Regulation and
referred to the Division of Insurance Fraud for further investigation.
"Operation Dirty Money continues to make great strides to eliminate illegal
check cashing businesses in Florida while ensuring taxpayers are protected from
the costly consequences of workers'
fraud," said CFO Atwater. "I commend our investigators and both the Broward
County and Palm Beach County sheriff’s offices for their hard work in making
this task force such a success."
In a separate but similar investigation, Luis Ramon Rodriguez, 49, the owner
of Three Rodriguez in Orlando was arrested in early September on similar charges
in violation of money service business practice requirements. His business was
positively identified as having negotiated checks made payable to identified
“shell” companies, the owners of which had been arrested previously by task
Hasan was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail on $100,000 bond. If
convicted on all charges, he faces up to 45 years in prison. If convicted,
Rodriguez faces up to 5 years in prison.
The Workers' Compensation Fraud Task Force was jointly created by CFO
Atwater’s Division of Insurance Fraud and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in
August of 2011. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office joined the task force in
2012. Through joint efforts, the task force has been able to successfully shut
down more than 40 shell companies and identify over $500 million in fraudulent
transactions associated with these companies. In addition, the Office of
Financial Regulation is working closely with the Workers' Compensation Task
Force to crack down on money service businesses in criminal violation of the
Florida Statutes that govern these businesses.
Innovation Drives Florida's Economy
Florida has worked hard to create an environment for long-term growth and
investment that allows businesses to better serve their communities and
employ more of their neighbors. This culture of economic innovation has
recognized as the “Most Innovative State in the Nation” by
Fast Company magazine this year.
Beginning with its edition on biotechnology, Florida’s Bottom Line
is presenting a three-part series on
Innovative Florida, highlighting the people and
industries that are driving our future as a diversified economy. We are now
recognized as one of the most attractive areas worldwide for the
biotechnology industry, with more than 200 biotechnology companies calling
The quarterly edition of Florida's Bottom Line is
complemented by its often-updated website,
www.MyFloridaCFO.com/FloridasBottomLine. When new
economic data is released, it can be found here. Florida's consumer
confidence, retail index, employment statistics and various other
resources will keep you up-to-date.