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  Vol. 7, No. 3, April 2019

Noticias Útiles

CFO Jimmy Patronis Announces Arrest of
Former Miami Insurance Agent for Stealing
Over $620,000 in Alleged Fraud Scheme

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of Orestes Valentin Rodriguez, a former licensed insurance agent and owner of Blue Guard Insurance Group Inc., after allegedly stealing more than $620,000 in insurance premiums.

CFO Jimmy Patronis
said, "Florida currently ranks first in fraud and fourth in identity theft nationwide and insurance fraud schemes like these drive up those rates. I launched my new Fraud Free Florida initiative to bring law enforcement agencies together to tackle Florida's mounting fraud epidemic and bring these scam artists to justice because these alarming statistics are not acceptable. If you commit fraud in Florida, you will be caught and held accountable."

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said, "I am proud to have forged a great partnership with Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and his elite force of insurance fraud investigators in the battle against insurance scam artists who dip into all of our pockets. When my prosecutors bring these insurance fraud criminals into court to face justice with this effective team of fraud fighters on their trail, these scammers need to recognize that they should be looking for a new and honest way to earn their living."

An investigation by CFO Patronis' fraud detectives and Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services, in partnership with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office Division of Economic Crimes, revealed that Rodriguez allegedly pocketed insurance premiums from a property management company representing a Miami homeowner's association and never paid the association's insurance.

Rodriguez allegedly:

  • Used a premium finance company to finance over $100,700 to pay for a $110,000 policy, keeping the money and never paying off the policy.
  • Collected down payments of more than $9,200 with customers paying $74,600 to the finance company for policies Rodriguez never purchased on their behalf.
  • Applied for nearly a million dollars in additional premium financing, allegedly generating 21 fraudulent premium finance contracts, and ultimately obtaining more than $430,000 from this premium financing.
  • Stole more than $2,900 in premium money from a home policy and a business liability policy.

In total, Rodriguez allegedly stole more than $620,000 in this fraud scheme. His insurance license has been revoked and he has been permanently barred from the insurance business in Florida.

Rodriguez was arrested March 20 and transported to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. Rodriguez faces one count of first degree grand theft, 21 counts of uttering a forged instrument, 12 counts of second degree grand theft, 7 counts of third degree grand theft and one count of first degree organized fraud. If convicted, Rodriguez could face up to 25 years in prison.

Oficial Principal de Finanzas Jimmy Patronis: La Florida Lucha Contra el Abuso Generalizado de AOB

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis released the following statement today regarding the final passage by the Florida Legislature of HB 7065, which protects Floridians from assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse. This bill now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, "We fought for Florida homeowners this year and passed this bill to stop the man-made hurricane of rampant AOB abuse in our state that is driving up insurance rates. Bad actors have exploited loopholes in Florida law to take advantage of a system meant to empower consumers, and today families take back control of their insurance benefits."

"Not only does this bill protect homeowners from being taken advantage of during vulnerable times, but it requires savings to be passed along to Floridians who have coverage through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. A 'no' vote on this bill is a vote against savings for Florida consumers and everyone should take notice. Tackling AOB abuse not only protects consumers but is essential to the financial health and stability of our state."

"I'd like to thank Senator Broxson, Senator Simmons, Representative Renner, Representative Rommel, President Galvano and Speaker Oliva for all of their efforts."

AOB is an agreement that, once signed, transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of your insurance policy to a third party. An AOB gives the third party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments without your involvement.

CFO Jimmy Patronis Statement on Upgrade of Hurricane Michael to Category 5 Storm

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis released the following statement regarding the recent announcement by NOAA's National Hurricane Center officially upgrading Hurricane Michael to a Category 5 storm. This makes Hurricane Michael the first hurricane to make landfall as a Category 5 storm since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and only the fourth on record.

"The news that Hurricane Michael was a Category 5 storm at landfall will come as no surprise to anyone who is still living with the aftermath of this monster storm. Six months later we still don't have congressional relief dollars, and the people of the Panhandle are stuck in the middle of political games. The prolonged recovery process has only been made worse by the lack of compassion of members of Congress turning a blind eye to the hardships in Northwest Florida."

"I hope this news serves as a strong wake up call to those prioritizing politics over real people fighting to get by. The Panhandle has so many families struggling as they piece their lives back together bit by bit - we need relief now."

CFO Jimmy Patronis Announces Arrest of
Jacksonville Contractor for Alleged $40,000 AOB Insurance Fraud Scheme

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of Wyatt Green, owner of Storm Restoration Specialists LLC, for allegedly stealing more than $40,000 from consumers who assigned their insurance benefits to him through Assignment of Benefits (AOB) contracts. Green and his staff allegedly forged customer signatures on construction documents and insurance claim payment checks that required signatures from both the homeowner and mortgage lender. An AOB gives a third-party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments without the homeowners' involvement

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CFO Jimmy Patronis: The Florida Panhandle Will
Not Be Forgotten

On the six-month anniversary of Hurricane Michael making landfall in the Florida Panhandle, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis released the most current insurance claims data related to the storm and calling on all parties involved to act immediately to make these communities whole.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, "It's hard to believe it has been six months since Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle, devastating so many communities. It's unthinkable that national politics and self-interest has obstructed recovery efforts, especially considering the magnitude of the destruction.

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michael stats

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CFO Jimmy Patronis Consumer Alert: 7 Tips
to Know For Car Warranty Rights

In recognition of National Car Care Month in April, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced a partnership with the Auto Care Association, the Car Care Council and the Automotive Aftermarket Association Southeast (AAAS) to help empower and to inform Floridians of their warranty rights. The partnership is intended to refute common misconceptions and untruths about consumers' responsibilities to maintain a written vehicle warranty.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, "Florida's consumers are often misled to believe they are required to obtain routine maintenance and repairs only at a dealership or that they can only use original parts. It's important that consumers are informed and empowered when making decisions that will ultimately impact their families' bottom line. I am proud of this new partnership and the added consumer protection it provides for all Floridians."

Top 7 Car Warranty Rights Tips

1. Read your warranty and ensure you understand the terms and coverage, including the warranty period.
2. Speak with the warrantor or dealership to obtain additional information on the warranty.
3. Know the law - Ley de Garantías Magnuson-Moss - and how it impacts you.
4. Be sure to follow the routine maintenance schedule and ensure all repairs are completed timely.
5. Record all maintenance and repairs that are completed on your vehicle and save the receipts for the service. Ensure the receipts are clearly dated and list an accurate description of the parts supplied and services performed.
6. Ensure the dealership or repair shop is licensed or certified (registered) with the state.
7. Remember that the vehicle manufacturer or dealer has the responsibility to demonstrate that the use of a non-OEM part or service caused the failure in question.

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CFO Jimmy Patronis: Jacksonville Joins Fraud
Free Florida Initiative

CFO Fraud Initiative

Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis was joined by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams to announce a partnership to enhance investigative efforts to fight fraud in Northeast Florida as a part of CFO Patronis' Fraud Free Florida initiative.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, "Florida currently ranks first in fraud and fourth in identity theft nationwide. These statistics are alarming and that is why I'm thankful for the support of Sheriff Williams and Mayor Curry to spearhead my Fraud Free Florida initiative here in Jacksonville. This partnership will allow our agencies to better coordinate collective investigative efforts to protect Floridians, especially our seniors, from scam artists who prey on Floridians' hard-earned money."

Mayor Lenny Curry said, "With public safety as my greatest priority, I enthusiastically embrace initiatives like Fraud Free Florida that protect our citizens from financial abuse. I applaud CFO Patronis and Sheriff Williams for identifying and building partnerships that prevent fraud and support the citizens of Jacksonville."

Sheriff Mike Williams said, "I am proud to join CFO Patronis and Mayor Curry in announcing this great partnership to fight fraud in Jacksonville. Expanding our investigative collaboration with the CFO's team will allow us to broaden our efforts in battling fraud and protecting consumers from financial scams."

CFO Jimmy Patronis' Consumer Helpline Stands
Ready to Help Floridians

Florida's Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced his Insurance Consumer Helpline (1-877-MY-FL-CFP) recovered over $40.5 million for Florida consumers in 2018, including $17.4 million recovered for Hurricane Michael victims. Since CFO Patronis took office in July 2017, $71.4 million has been recovered for consumers statewide.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, "Most Floridians don't realize my office has consumer advocates to help with your insurance or financial questions and complaints. We are here for all Florida consumers, always ready to step in and fight for you. Before you get trapped in a binding Assignment of Benefits battle, call my office and my team will be in your corner for free."

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CFO Jimmy Patronis: Congress Must Act to
Reauthorize Flood Insurance Program

With the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services holding a hearing recently on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis urged federal leaders to reauthorize the Florida subsidized program.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, "With less than three months until Hurricane Season begins, Congress must act to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. Flooding isn't just a hurricane season problem: the aftermath of Hurricane Michael continues to trigger flooding for parts of Northwest Florida because debris has clogged rivers. Florida is a top donor state to NFIP, and floods have cost our state approximately $5.1 billion over the last 40 years. This program is critical to protect our residents and economy.

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CFO Jimmy Patronis Launches 'Operation Return
the Valor' for Florida's Veterans

In honor of National Medal of Honor Day, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced, 'Operation Return the Valor,' a statewide initiative to further honor those who serve in our armed forces. The initiative's first mission will be to find owners or heirs of nearly 40 medals of veterans left in forgotten safety deposit boxes and sent to the state's unclaimed property program. The medals include decorations such as Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, and Distinguished Flying Crosses. CFO Patronis needs help from local communities to find these veterans and their families, so they can be reunited with the honors they received during service.

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