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My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

CFO meets with fire professionalsThis week is Arson Awareness Week, a nationwide initiative to educate Americans about arson and how to help combat it in our communities. This year, Arson Awareness Week is focused on reducing vehicle arsons. This particular crime accounts for 27 percent of all arsons committed annually and $169 million in property damage per year in the United States.

As your State Fire Marshal, I am committed to reducing the number of arson-related incidents in Florida and holding those who commit arson accountable for their harmful actions. Last year, our Bureau of Fire and Arson received nearly 4,000 requests for investigative assistance from fire departments, law enforcement agencies, federal and state agencies, individuals and insurance companies, which led to 399 arrests. We conducted investigations on properties that resulted in estimated losses of nearly $157 million, of which approximately $27 million was attributed to arson.

State Fire Marshal badgeOur department’s Division of State Fire Marshal is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to everyone from local fire departments to citizens who want to attend one of the finest fire training colleges in the state. Our State Fire College trains more than 6,000 students per year in a wide variety of certification and professional development programs. Meanwhile, our Fire Incident Reporting Section collects more than 1.8 million fire and emergency reports every year and our Bureau of Fire Prevention is responsible for inspecting more than 14,000 buildings every year.

Firefighters risk their lives each time they respond to a call. I encourage you to educate yourselves on the signs of arson and strategies to combat arson in your communities. For more information about our Division of State Fire Marshal or to report a suspected arson, please visit http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/SFM. For more information about arson awareness week and strategies to fight vehicle arson, please visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/prevention_education/
strategies/arson/index.shtm
.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Pensacola News Journal: Wading through insurance can make flood cleanup look easy

Pensacola News Journal: Florida will receive disaster relief funds

USA Today: Spring stunner: Jobs report blows past forecasts

MarketWatch: Major retirement savings mistakes - by millennials

Associated Press: Service firms grow at fastest pace since August

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Buying can beat renting in less than a year

USA Today: Business lending picks up in first quarter

Six Arrested in Insurance Fraud Case Involving Tallahassee Towing Company

CFO Jeff Atwater recently announced that six employees of aInsurance Fraud badge Tallahassee towing company have been arrested for filing fraudulent insurance claims. The Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, in a joint investigation, discovered that Auto Doctor Towing Company employees filed fraudulent claims to eight insurance companies.

"I am proud of our investigators and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office for working together to shut down this illegal operation that’s responsible for defrauding insurance companies and consumers out of thousands of dollars," said CFO Atwater. "Insurance fraud not only hurts businesses, it takes money from all Floridians through higher insurance costs."

The investigation revealed that the company’s manager, Anthony Ragsdale, established a scheme to enrich himself by double charging for his company’s services. Despite already being covered by AAA, Ragsdale’s customers were instructed to bill AAA and their automobile insurance company for towing and mileage charges. As a result of this deceptive practice, the towing company was paid twice for their services.

Florida Economic Briefs

U.S. creates 288,000 jobs in April; unemployment rate falls to 6.3 percent
The national unemployment rate declined from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent as employers added 288,000 jobs in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Florida's Bottom LineFlorida's Bottom Line on Sports

The Spring edition of Florida’s Bottom Line features information about innovations in Florida’s sports industry and highlights how Florida is successfully competing with the rest of the nation. The latest edition includes essays by John F. Webb, president of the Florida Sports Foundation; Joie Chitwood III, president of the Daytona International Speedway; and Daryl Holt, vice president of digital game developer EA-Tiburon.

Click here to read the newest edition of Florida’s Bottom Line.