MyFloridaCFO, September 1, 2023
PERRY, Fla. – Following the impacts of Hurricane Idalia, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis activated and deployed his Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) to protect Florida residents and businesses from fraud. The DFAST deployment consists of three teams comprised of 23 personnel, including insurance fraud and workers’ compensation fraud detectives. The teams are positioned in the 16 Florida counties most impacted by Hurricane Idalia, including Taylor, Dixie, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus, Levy, Pinellas, Marion, Hernando, Columbia, Union, Bradford, and Alachua counties. CFO Patronis’ anti-fraud teams work to ensure contractors follow Florida workers’ compensation laws while conducting repairs following storms. They also work to educate and inform the public on law changes related to the Assignment of Benefits (AOB) process. To protect policyholders, new laws eliminated the use of AOBs for certain property insurance contracts in Florida.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Following a natural disaster, scam artists will work overtime to defraud individuals in their time of need. That’s why I have deployed three Disaster Fraud Action Strike Teams to 16 counties throughout the state impacted by Hurricane Idalia to be on the lookout for bad actors trying to make a buck off of the damage caused by this storm. These anti-fraud strike teams consist of trained insurance fraud detectives with specialized knowledge of property and casualty fraud and workers’ compensation fraud that will be on the ground today in the impacted areas to ensure residents can recover quickly and lawbreakers are held responsible. It’s vital that consumers know the warning signs of fraud, and if you or a loved one believes you have fallen victim to a scam, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.”
DFAST Teams consist of detectives working for 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:
1. A contractor or restoration professional who offered to waive or discount your insurance deductible.
2. A contractor or restoration professional who has received payment and has failed to provide any repairs to your home.
3. 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.
4. A contractor or restoration professional who pressured you to sign an AOB and has failed to provide any repairs to your home or stopped responding to your contact attempts.
Call the Department’s toll-free Fraud Tip Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or visit www.FraudFreeFlorida.com to report suspected fraud.