Volume 3 Number 8
February 20, 2006

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An elderly couple who loses their life savings in an investment scam is tragic financially, mentally and emotionally.  Every time a con artist is arrested, we use it as an opportunity to tell Floridians to Verify Before You Buy

This message was recently underscored with the arrest of Patrick B. Kirkland of Isleworth and Laura Wade of Lady Lake, who targeted Floridians in an estimated $60 million real estate scheme.  Thanks to aggressive action, both have been booked on state and federal charges of securities fraud and grand theft.

The investors who were victimized in this case did not realize that Kirkland was not licensed to sell investments in Florida.

To protect those who want to invest their hard-earned money, there are resources available to guard against financial fraud.    

You can verify, by phone or online, if an investment or insurance product is registered with our department and if the person selling the product is licensed. You can also find out how many complaints have been lodged against an agent or company you are considering, and the reasons for the complaints.          

Verify Before You Buy by calling us at 1-800-342-2762 or visiting us at www.MyFloridaCFO.com. Click on the Verify Before You Buy button in the right column.

We are committed to helping you make safe and informed financial decisions.


Everyone Pays - PIP Fraud brochure


Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, has announced the arrests of 21 individuals for allegedly staging 10 auto crashes stemming from an investigation that uncovered more than 60 staged crashes throughout the Tampa Bay area.  The 10 staged crashes that these individuals are being charged for resulted in nearly $1 million in fake claims.  The round-up was organized by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“Aggressive investigations and prosecutions coupled with legislation I’m advocating this year will tighten the net around these criminals,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.    “We must continue the fight to protect Floridians from the danger and cost inflicted by insurance fraud schemes.”

The arrests are the result of federal indictments unsealed in the Middle District of Florida.  Among those arrested are medical clinic owners, staged crash organizers and accident participants. Most auto insurance fraud cases involve the organizing of staged auto crashes in order to fraudulently bill for services covered by personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which provides up to $10,000 for medical bills from an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault.  Florida law requires drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. CONTINUED




More than 100 agents have met similar fate in last three years

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, has permanently revoked the license of a south Florida insurance agent for misleading five senior citizens into purchasing annuities and life insurance policies that caused them to lose more than $150,000 in surrender fees and benefits. While his clients lost money, Eric James Brown, 36, of Delray Beach, collected nearly $200,000 in commissions for selling the policies. Gallagher has ordered Brown to pay restitution to the victims.

“We have zero tolerance for insurance agents who deceive our seniors and cheat them out of their hard-earned retirement funds,” said Gallagher, whose Division of Agent and Agency Services conducted the investigation on Brown. “Most insurance agents are good corporate citizens – small- business men and women who serve our communities. Insurance agents who engage in theft and fraud give good agents a bad name and drive up insurance costs on all Floridians. Our mission is to bring the full force of the law against unscrupulous agents and to aggressively educate our seniors against these scams.”

In the last three years, Gallagher has taken action against 110 agents for theft and fraud involving the elderly. Florida is home to more than 2.9 million Floridians over the age of 65 and, Gallagher said, the state’s senior population is projected to grow by as much as 30 percent over the next several years. 




Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced that Florida victims of TRG Marketing LLC, the Indiana-based unauthorized insurance entity that left hundreds of Floridians with unpaid medical claims, will get back nearly $3 million in restitution.  Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, which conducted the only criminal investigation against the operators.  TRG left an estimated 7,300 victims in 43 states.

“I am pleased that this money is being returned to the victims,” Gallagher said.  “This may help them recover from the financial anguish, but the mental anguish may never be undone.”

Carmelo Zanfei and William Paul Crouse were ordered to pay restitution during sentencing last August by Ninth Circuit Court Judge Julie H. O’Kane.  Zanfei was sentenced to two years in prison, and Crouse was sentenced to four years in prison, and they will jointly pay the restitution.  The department’s investigation identified about 180 Florida victims, one of whom is due $138,000. 

Teresa Orr, of Monteverde, Fla., has steadfastly declared that her husband Pete Orr, a NASCAR-circuit driver, died because he could not get timely access to medical care he needed due to mounting unpaid claims. Orr’s death prompted Gallagher to pursue legislation, the “Pete Orr Bill” that passed in 2003, which significantly increased criminal penalties for individuals convicted of operating an unlicensed insurance entity. CONTINUED


Healthy Kids Enrollment Information

Families can apply online at www.healthykids.org

Enrollment applications can be downloaded off the Internet at:  http://www.healthykids.org/apply

Families can also call 1-888-540-KIDS  (1-888-540-5437) to receive the enrollment application by mail.



State-subsidized insurance program also launches new marketing campaign to reach eligible families and increase enrollment

With the click of a mouse, Florida families with uninsured children can now go online to apply for affordable, quality health insurance through Florida Healthy Kids and KidCare. The re-designed Healthy Kids Web site at www.healthykids.org also allows parents to check the status of their application and make payments once their children are enrolled. Many customer service improvements were made to the program over the past few months. Easy access and online enrollment were the top requests from families who suggested ways to make the program better.

“This is the best time for families to enroll in the program because it’s easier to apply for benefits,” said Healthy Kids executive director Rose Naff. “If a family sends us an application, we’ll get them health insurance.

According to the latest study of the uninsured by the University of Florida, there are 143,000 children that qualify for the program. Using this information, Healthy Kids is launching a grassroots effort, combined with advertising, to reach out to these eligible families.  CONTINUED


Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has announced that the Florida Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) has been completed for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005.

The CAFR is a comprehensive presentation of the state’s financial and operating activities during the fiscal year prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting standards.  The basic financial statements within the CAFR have been approved by the Florida Auditor General’s Office.

The report is available on the department’s website at
www.MyFloridaCFO.com by clicking on the link to 2005 Annual Financial Report for Florida - CAFR.