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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

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. Operation S.A.F.E.

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 community-specific resources.

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 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

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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 Protect your homebase.Florida. 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 signing.

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.DFS Division of Insurance Fraud Badge

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 www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Safe.

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' DFS Division of Insurance Fraud Badgecompensation 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 force detectives.

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 helped Florida Florida's Bottom Line be 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 Florida home.

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.