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John Grant Opinion: Time for Florida to Cut Down on Fraud

For some reason,‭ ‬Florida has always been ripe for fraud and scams.‭ ‬As a former state senator,‭ ‬I have seen‭ ‬and worked to fight against fraud for decades.‭ ‬But even more than usual,‭ ‬it seems fraud is front and center in Florida right now.‭

For instance,‭ ‬the state insurance company Citizens‭ ‬Property Insurance Corporation,‭ ‬the‭ “‬insurer of last resort,” recently‭ ‬sent out a consumer alert‭ ‬warning‭ ‬about fake Citizens‭ ‬websites.‭ ‬These sites are apparently selling products and asking for credit card‭ ‬information‭ ‬and/or other personal information.‭ ‬The real Citizens‭ ‬fraud unit is working to shut down these bogus sites.‭

A West Palm Beach television station has been investigating a rooftop solar panel company called Vision Solar that has allegedly been leaving homeowners in the lurch.‭ ‬They apparently‭ ‬sell the solar panels to customers and deliver them,‭ ‬but when it comes time to install them,‭ ‬homeowners say they can’t‭ ‬reach the company to finish the work.‭ ‬The investigation found that‭ ‬some of the panels did not work,‭ ‬and most were unpermitted so they couldn’t be installed.‭ ‬The Better Business Bureau has received more than‭ ‬400‭ ‬complaints against the company according to the television report.‭ ‬Wonder how many other solar companies are doing the same thing‭?

COVID fraudsters around the country are being tracked down and charged.‭ ‬A Miami real estate influencer was just arrested for apparently using almost‭ ‬$400,000‭ ‬in COVID-19‭ ‬relief funds for personal items like buying a new luxury car.‭ ‬Identity theft happens so often it costs the state billions of dollars each year in losses.‭ ‬And price gouging after storms and disasters has always been a big deal here in Florida.‭

Utility scams are common and seem to come and go like the weather.‭ ‬Here scammers often‭ ‬prey on seniors using the fear of losing‭ ‬their power or gas‭ ‬service‭ ‬in order to‭ ‬get money from victims.‭ ‬If you receive a suspicious message or phone call,‭ ‬don’t give out any personal or financial information.‭ ‬Call your utility company directly and check on your account.

The state is working hard to‭ ‬charge and convict‭ ‬these bad people.‭ ‬It has all kinds of fraud units including ones for Medicaid,‭ ‬voter,‭ ‬and insurance fraud.‭ ‬The Sunshine State has so much property insurance fraud that we’re all paying the price for it with astronomical‭ ‬rate‭ ‬increases.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office‭ ‬recently‭ ‬presented budget details in a House State Administration‭ and ‬Technology Appropriations Subcommittee‭ ‬requesting additional investigators of insurance fraud.‭ ‬Currently,‭ ‬the state has two property and casualty homeowner insurance fraud squads.‭ ‬But now they’re considering a third‭ ‬unit‭ ‬to keep up with the volume of complaints.‭

All of this fraud costs each and every one of us.‭ ‬That’s why it’s got to stop.‭ ‬With the price of housing,‭ ‬outrageous property insurance rates,‭ ‬food,‭ ‬and gasoline increases,‭ ‬we can’t afford not to go after fraud.‭

John Grant, a former state representative and state senator,‭ ‬an estate planning attorney, and a member of the National Senior Citizen Hall of Fame, has spent much of his career working on behalf of seniors. John is continuing the advocacy work by heading a venture called Seniors Across America to continue speaking up for our elderly population.

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