Jimmy Patronis Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, October 4, 2022
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Today, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced that his Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS) Anti-Fraud Strike Teams have made more than 1,700 engagements with the public on post-disaster fraud following Hurricane Ian. Last Friday, the CFO announced that he deployed six teams to impacted areas in Charlotte, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia county. These teams are actively canvassing storm impacted areas to deter fraud, arrest scammers and protect consumers. Each team consists of six fraud officers working to educate and inform the public on signs of fraud and to ensure contractors are following all applicable Florida laws while conducting repairs. The teams will also track leads to open cases and bring fraudsters to justice.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is! We’ve got our law enforcement officers canvassing storm impacted areas chasing leads and educating the public on fraud. We’ve had over 1,700 engagements with the public. Consumers impacted by Hurricane Ian must be on guard for fraud. Do not feel pressured to sign anything without doing your research first. If you see signs of fraudulent activity in your area, report it to my office immediately by calling our Fraud Tip Hotline at 1-800-378-0445.”
National Insurance Crime Bureau President and CEO David Glawe said, “Recovering from a disaster is an intimidating task, and homeowners should not be victimized twice. NICB is committed to working in collaboration with the Florida CFO to raise awareness on post-disaster fraud and to alert the public that there is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits your repair work—especially when you did not request it.”
The Anti-Fraud Strike Teams are staffed with officers from the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS). They are trained insurance fraud investigators with specialized knowledge of property and casualty fraud and workers’ compensation fraud. In addition to identifying active fraud operations in the field, investigators will work with each community to educate homeowners, homeowners’ associations and local law enforcement about the red flags of fraud.
Indicators of Storm-Related Fraud:
- A contractor or restoration professional who offered to waive or discount your insurance deductible.
- A contractor or restoration professional that has received payment and has failed to provide any repairs to your home.
- A contractor or restoration professional who offered to provide repairs at a cash-only discounted rate and has failed to provide repairs to your home.
- A contractor or restoration professional who pressured you to sign an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) and has failed to provide any repairs to your home or stopped responding to your contact attempts.
To report suspected fraud, call the Department’s toll-free Fraud Tip Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or visit FraudFreeFlorida.com.