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

Dear Fellow Floridian:

As you gather with friends and loved ones this week, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the things you are most grateful for in your lives. This year, as always, I am incredibly grateful for my dear friends and family and the blessing it is to live in a nation where we are free to pursue our dreams. I am also thankful for the men and women who risk their lives every day so that we may enjoy the countless ways we have been blessed.

In my role as Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal, I am thankful for my talented team that works each day at the Department of Financial Services to fight fraud, abuse and waste in government, to reduce government spending and regulatory burdens, and to provide transparency and accountability in state spending.

I encourage you to take advantage of the financial opportunities our department’s dedicated public servants offer Floridians. For example, our Division of Consumer Services, which can be reached at 1-877-693-5236, helps consumers make informed insurance and financial decisions. Our Your Money Matters website can help you access resources and tools you need to take control of your finances and ensure a bright financial future for you and your family. Meanwhile, if you have ever lived in Florida, there's a chance we are holding unclaimed property for you. Our Bureau of Unclaimed Property works tirelessly to reunite Floridians with their dollars and property, which you can search for here.

In addition to these services, our Division of Insurance Fraud works to protect you and your family from the costly effects of fraud, and I am thankful for their efforts to remove fraudsters from our streets. During the last fiscal year, nearly 1,600 arrests were made by our dedicated fraud team, making our state and your hard earned money safer. Furthermore, our Division of State Fire Marshal not only responds statewide to calls for service, but uncovers major arson rings and holds suspects responsible through detailed case development.

These examples are only a few of the ways our Department of Financial Services can help you. Our department consists of more than a dozen divisions, all of which work for you. I encourage you to go to our website and see how they can help you keep your hard-earned money in your pocket, where it belongs. You will be grateful that you did.

Consumer Helpline
Your Money Matters
Unclaimed Property
Insurance Fraud
State Fire Marshal

I am thankful that we live in a land of opportunity. I hope you make the most of your opportunities and relish your time spent with loved ones this week. On behalf of my wife Carole, our children and myself, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving! We also offer our warmest wishes to Florida’s Jewish community this Hanukkah. May your celebration and time with loved ones be blessed!

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Tampa Bay Times: Florida consumer confidence on the rise

Tampa Bay Business Journal: Florida tops U.S. for October job growth

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Florida holiday shoppers ready to go

Lakeland Ledger: Mild hurricane season leaves Florida unscathed

Sun-Sentinel: IT industry has reason to party: Pay on rise

Sun-Sentinel: Small shops get ready for Small Business Saturday

Man Arrested for Check Cashing Scheme

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has announced the arrest of Michel Katimi, 32, for allowing shell construction companies to pay employees under the table, averting records of employment that require workers’ compensation coverage to protect employees in cases of injury or death.

“These white collar criminals are hurting all Floridians with their efforts to outmaneuver the law,” said CFO Atwater. “I commend all of our partners working with the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Task Force on their success and the arrests they have made that help protect honest and hard-working Floridians.”

Stemming from the CFO’s commitment to combat workers’ compensation fraud facilitated by complicit money service businesses, this arrest highlights the success of the fraud work group and task force established by CFO Atwater in 2011, in concert with the Broward and Palm Beach Sheriff offices. The work group aimed to review the practices of check cashing companies to identify loopholes that allow “shell” construction companies to commit workers’ compensation fraud.

An investigation by the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Task Force Insurance Fraud revealed various shell construction companies operating an ongoing workers’ compensation premium fraud scheme and conspiring with Katimi, owner of Rapido Check Cashing, a licensed money service business in Tamarac, Florida, to file fraudulent currency transaction reports (CTR) totaling more than $1 million with the Department of Treasury.

Since its inception, task force investigations have uncovered in excess of $500 million in fraudulent transactions, which have led to the filing of criminal charges against 14 owners and operators of money service businesses in the State of Florida.

Michel Katimi was arrested and booked into the Miami-Dade County jail. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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 nearly $350,000 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.

Read the Latest Issue of Florida's Bottom Line

Florida's Bottom Line on Innovative Florida - Aerospace and AviationInside the latest issue 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. It will be the continued commitment and creativity of Floridians who will make our state a global leader for innovation and economic prosperity in the 21st century. Florida's Bottom Line should help equip you with the resources to be a part of this mission.