Natural disasters can bring out the best and the worst in people. (Photo: Shutterstock)
On Sept. 29, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Patronis announced the formation of anti-fraud strike teams to protect Floridians from post-storm insurance fraud in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Three separate teams will work in areas all heavily impacted by Irma: South Florida, including Miami-Dade and Monroe counties; Southwest Florida, including Lee and Collier counties; and Central Florida, including Polk and Orange Counties.
“The unfortunate truth is that some individuals will attempt to take advantage of consumers during this high-stress time,” CFO Patronis said in a statement from the Florida Department of Financial Services. “To combat fraudsters attempts to swindle Floridians, we’re putting boots on the ground to ward off fraud and swiftly address any scams that may arise.”
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CFO Patronis will be working directly with prosecutors housed within each of the State Attorney’s offices “to ensure that law-breakers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of Florida law.”
These strike teams will be composed of trained insurance fraud investigators from the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Investigative and Forensic Services, all with specialized knowledge of property and casualty fraud and workers’ compensation fraud.
The Department of Financial Services will also deploy investigators to work with affected Floridians by educating homeowners, homeowners’ associations, and local law enforcement about the major warning signs of fraud.
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Floridians can report suspicious behavior by calling the Department of Financial Services’ anti-fraud hotline at 1-800-378-0445, or by contacting one of the Department’s regional insurance fraud offices. Callers can remain anonymous and are asked to provide as much information as possible.