Sello de Jimmy Patronis, CFO

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CFO Patronis Announces Deployment of Six Anti-Fraud Strike Teams to Central & Southwest Florida Following Hurricane Ian

9/30/2022

Matlacha, Fla. – Following the impacts of Hurricane Ian, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced that the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS) will deploy six Anti-Fraud Strike Teams to protect vulnerable residents from fraud. Two anti-fraud teams have been deployed to the Orlando and Tampa areas with an additional two teams each for the Charlotte and Lee County areas to follow. 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, “Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, scam artists will be working overtime to defraud individuals in their time of need. That’s why we’re deploying six Anti-Fraud Strike Teams to storm impacted areas in Orlando, Tampa, and Southwest Florida with nearly 40 fraud officers to be on the lookout for bad actors trying to make a quick buck off of the victims of this storm. We want to eliminate any incentives for illegal acts and that’s why our DIFS team is in the community to deter any fraudulent activity. Let me be clear – if you attempt to defraud Floridians following Hurricane Ian – you will be caught and you will be thrown in jail. Consumers impacted by these storms 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.”

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:

  1. A contractor or restoration professional who offered to waive or discount your insurance deductible.
  2. A contractor or restoration professional that 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 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.