- Updating you on what's going on
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and the Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced the recent arrest of insurance representative, Claudia Estevez, and her client, Ariel Mora, following an investigation led by DFS’ Bureau of Insurance Fraud. In an alleged attempt to evade a higher insurance premium, Estevez aided Mora by helping him submit a fictitious insurance application allowing Mora to fraudulently obtain a less expensive, inadequate insurance policy.
Tuesday evening, CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis spoke to Texas State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy with Texas’ Department of Insurance and offered the full support and resources of Florida’s fire service community to assist with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.
“Even in the heart of a devastating situation, Fire Marshal Connealy remains optimistic about recovery efforts thus far, and was grateful for the support of Florida and other states as Texas begins to pick up the pieces following the worst storm in recent memory,” said CFO Patronis. “We know recovery is measured not in days or weeks, but in months and even years, and we’re prepared to support Texas recovery efforts for the long haul.”
As waters slowly start to recede in Texas, CFO Patronis is also offering the full resources of Florida’s experienced insurance fraud investigators, who are trained to combat scams that are common following natural disasters, such as rampant unlicensed contracting and fake FEMA representatives who attempt to charge for assistance with the filing of federal flood insurance claims.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced the recent arrest of Juan Jose Castro, owner of JACM Construction Corp., after his alleged attempt to operate a shell company with the sole intent of circumventing the state’s workers’ compensation laws. A “shell company” is an entity that conducts no significant business operations and can be used as vehicle to conduct fraudulent financial transactions, such as workers’ compensation fraud.
Castro obtained a workers' compensation policy for JACM Construction Corp. April 25, 2017. When obtaining the policy, Castro provided his business operated with an estimated annual payroll of $112,000.00 for work classified under the description of wallboard installation and carpentry.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced that the first of two 2017 unclaimed property auctions, held Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, earned $1.194 million. All of the auction’s nearly 48,000 individual items sold, and the highest grossing individual auction item was a 14k gold ring with a 4.02-carat European cut diamond that sold for $11,500.
Items included in the Department of Financial Services’ unclaimed property auctions come from abandoned safe deposit boxes. Despite at least five years of exhaustive efforts, no rightful owner or entitled heir stepped forward to claim the boxes or the items contained within them. However, the proceeds earned from the sale of auction items can be claimed at any time and at no cost should an owner ever come forward.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and the Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced the recent arrest of an Oviedo woman, Kistin Bentley, following her alleged submission of fraudulent applications for public assistance benefits to the Department of Children and Families. As a result of her actions, Bentley received $19,322 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also known as food stamps or SNAP, and Medicaid benefits that she did not qualify for.
From May 2014 through September 2016, investigators with DFS’ Division of Public Assistance Fraud (DPAF) discovered that Bentley submitted multiple applications for public assistance. On those applications, Bentley stated the only income made available to her household was through her husband’s employment, allowing Bentley to qualify for public assistance.
The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) announced that John Edward Simpson, 64, entered a plea of guilty to eight felony counts of grand theft, 12 felony counts of securities fraud, 12 felony counts of failing to register a security, and 12 felony counts of failing to register as a securities dealer. Simpson, a resident of Tarpon Springs, perpetrated an investment fraud scheme out of Safety Harbor.
The Office of Insurance Regulation has received the 2018 Florida workers’ compensation rate filing by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), which proposes a statewide average premium decrease of 9.6%. This includes a statewide average rate decrease of 9.3% and a reduction of the fixed expense cost applicable to every workers’ compensation policy in Florida from $200 to $160. The new rates would become effective January 1, 2018.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced the appointment of John M. McKay to the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Board of Governors.
McKay, of Bradenton, is president of The Riverside Real Estate Company, and he brings more than 35 years of real estate and property management experience to the board of governors. McKay served in the Florida Senate from 1990-2002, also serving as Senate President from 2000-2002.
McKay earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, where he also completed post-graduate studies. He has remained involved in his community, serving as board chairman for the Manatee Rural Health Foundation and the McKay Academy. He is a former board chairman for the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Ringling Museum of Art.
McKay succeeds former board member, Juan Cocuy, for a three-year term ending July 31, 2020.
We highly recommend licensees routinely check their MyProfile accounts for messages from the Department. We send an email notification when a message has been sent to remind you to check your MyProfile account, but on rare occasions you may not receive that email. For this reason, we suggest you add our domains dfs.state.fl.us and MyFloridaCFO.com to your email software's Trusted or Safe Senders List to ensure you are able to receive email notifications from us. Licensees who have a valid email address on file with the Department, as required by law, are sent important email notifications when something affecting their application, license, continuing education, or appointment(s) occurs. Additionally, we will keep you informed with warnings regarding new schemes and scams being marketed to licensees. You can update your contact information through your MyProfile account. We want to keep you informed in a timely manner of pertinent information. You are still required to abide by the Florida Insurance Code regardless of whether you read the information we provide or attempt to provide.