Dear Fellow Floridian:
This week, businesses and organizations around the country and globe are
participating in Fraud Awareness Week. The goal is to promote awareness,
of these often hard-to-spot crimes.
As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, it is my top priority to fight to help
keep your hard-earned money in your pocket where it belongs. Unfortunately,
there is a segment of Florida’s population that is working just as hard to empty
your pockets – fraudsters and scam artists. Their frauds and scams range from
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, home
improvement scams, debt reduction scams, fake lotteries and many more.
Click on image for a larger view.
Recognizing frauds and scams is the most important step to avoid becoming a
victim. In an effort to help inform, empower and protect Florida’s families,
seniors in particular, against financial scams, we have been hosting a series of
workshops across the state. Our tips to avoid fraud include advice such as:
- Be suspicious of something that sounds too good to be true.
- Don’t pay upfront fees to companies or organizations you are
- Only buy insurance from licensed companies and agents.
- Don’t provide personal or confidential information by email,
phone, or text to someone you don’t trust.
- Don’t post your travel plans online.
- Do not wire money in response to any threats.
I am proud to say that insurance fraud related arrests are up nearly 55
percent since 2010. The success of our dedicated and tireless employees to fight
fraud and abuse in our state is incredible, yet the fight against fraud remains
an ongoing battle.
If you suspect fraud, reporting it is easy and just a phone call away. Please
call 1-800-378-0445 to report suspected fraud and help curb this growing problem
that is driving up the cost of living for all Floridians. Citizens can remain
anonymous, and tips that lead to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud
scheme can even collect up to $25,000 as part of our Anti-Fraud Reward Program.
To date, we’ve awarded nearly $350,000 to more than 50 citizens.
Do not allow yourself to become a victim. Take charge and learn what you can
do to protect yourself and your loved ones. For more information about fraud and
consumer protection, visit our website at
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Steve Burgess Returns as Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate
On Tuesday, CFO Atwater announced the appointment of Steve
Burgess as Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate.
Burgess, of Tallahassee, previously served as Florida’s Insurance Consumer
Advocate from 1990 to 1997 and 2004 to 2007. He most recently served as the
staff director of the Florida Senate’s Committee on Banking and Insurance, and
he has also served as an associate and deputy public counsel. Burgess received
his bachelor’s degree in accounting and his law degree from Florida State
“Steve’s career experience and his understanding of the insurance industry
will help further our efforts to hold insurance companies accountable and ensure
that Floridians are being treated fairly,” said CFO Atwater. “He is a proven
advocate for Florida consumers and I am confident he will represent the best
interests of Florida families.”
Arrest for Failure to Provide Workers’ Compensation Insurance
CFO Atwater on Thursday announced the arrest of Joel Trujillo on charges of
violating a stop-work order and third-degree-felony workers’ compensation fraud
for allegedly failing to provide adequate coverage to employees of his
Naples-based construction company, K.C. Tile and Marble. The fraud was
discovered when two employees of Trujillo were struck by lightning, killing one,
and neither the surviving employee nor the family of the deceased received the
“This tragedy is an example of why it is so important for companies to make
sure their employees are covered by workers' compensation insurance,” said CFO
Atwater. “Ignoring the workers' compensation law is not only criminal, it
creates significant hardships for families that suffer from not only the loss or
injury of a loved one, but also from the financial losses due to medical bills
and missed work.”
In June 2013, K.C. Tile and Marble employees Jose Kenn Alexi Cruz
Villamar and Robert Wiley were struck by lightning while working at a
construction site in Naples, Florida. Wiley died as a result of his injuries.
Because Wiley’s employer did not hold workers’ compensation coverage, his
family was not afforded death benefits potentially allowable under workers’
compensation insurance. Death benefits may have included funeral expenses,
compensation to dependents and educational benefits to the surviving spouse.
Benefits are payable up to a maximum of $150,000.
A workers’ compensation compliance investigator discovered that K.C. Tile
failed to secure workers’ compensation insurance coverage, as required by
Florida statute, while Wiley and Villamar were working for the company. For
failing to comply with the law, K.C. Tile and Marble was served with a stop-work
order by the Florida Division of Worker’s Compensation Compliance. When Trujillo
was arrested, his business was found to be in violation of this stop-work order.
Trujillo was booked into the Collier County Jail and if convicted faces up to
ten years in prison.
Florida Economic Briefs
U.S. Gross Domestic Product
The national economy continued to grow, albeit slowly, in the third quarter
with U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing by 2.8 percent between July and
- Real final sales, a key measure of underlying demand and
strength of the U.S. economy, grew 2.0 percent in the third quarter after a gain
of 2.1 percent in the second quarter.
- Consumer spending also increased 1.5 percent in the third
quarter and is up 1.8 percent over the year.
- While spending on large ticket items, such as automobiles,
remained strong, business investment was mixed in the third quarter.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
Florida’s Economic Activity
Statewide, economic activity continued to grow in August, led by new housing
investment, auto sales, and tourism spending in Florida.
- Metro areas reporting the largest increases in economic
activity were Naples, Fort Myers, Ocala, Vero Beach, Panama City and West Palm
- In August, statewide taxable sales totaled $26.7 billion,
nearly a 10 percent increase over the year.
Source: Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR)
U.S. Unemployment Rate
Employers add 204,000 jobs in October; U.S. unemployment rate rises to 7.3
- Job growth in the past three months averaged 201,700 a month
– close to the average at the start of the year and slightly higher than the
190,000 monthly average for the past 12 months
- The job increases were led by a surge of 44,000 net new hires
in the retail industry as stores began to gear up for the holiday season
- The labor force participation rate dropped to 62.8 percent,
the lowest level since March 1978
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
the latest edition of
Florida’s Bottom Line, you’ll find expert
commentary on Florida’s efforts to create and lead the next generation of
innovation in the aerospace and aviation industry.