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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