Attorney General Moody's Week In Review
This week is National Consumer Protection Week, a time to highlight our successes in fighting consumer fraud and provide resources to help Floridians avoid scams.
COVID-19 has changed so much about our daily routines and provided more ways for scammers to target Floridians. As scams evolve, so must the approach we take in avoiding them.
There are several key steps you can take to better protect your finances and sensitive information in the age of COVID-19, including:
These are just a few ways you can prevent falling victim to fraud during National Consumer Protection Week and beyond. For more information on how to protect yourself, visit our Scams at a Glance page at MyFloridaLegal.com/ScamsAtAGlance.
If you do fall victim to a scam or see something suspicious, report it to my office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.
By developing smart consumer habits and alerting my office to scams, you can help us build a Stronger, Safer Florida.
- Seek information from trusted sources, such as county health departments or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
- Avoid too-good-to-be-true offers or promotions;
- Never respond to solicitations, whether they appear online, come through the mail or via your cellphone; and
- Pay with a credit card if possible, especially when making purchases online. Credit card companies often provide extra customer protection measures.
VIDEO: Attorney General Moody Shuts Down Moving Scams and Recovers Millions for Consumers Duped by Malicious Movers
This National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Ashley Moody is announcing court action taken to stop malicious moving companies preying on Floridians. In the past year, Attorney General Moody and her Consumer Protection Division secured four judgments against companies that used deceptive advertising or other deceptive tactics to rip off customers. The judgments resulted in more than $2.7 million in recoveries.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Malicious movers beware, if you plan to take advantage of consumers simply trying to relocate, my Consumer Protection Division will find out and your fraudulent trek will be stopped in its tracks. With spring right around the corner, many people will be boxing up their belongings and moving to a new home. Moving can be an arduous project and could turn disastrous if bad actors, posing as legitimate movers or brokers, try to take advantage by inflating prices, holding goods hostage or using other deceitful tactics.” More.
VIDEO: Attorney General Moody Joins FTC and Multiple State Agencies to Shut Down Massive Charity Fraud Robocall Operation
Attorney General Ashley Moody, along with the Federal Trade Commission and agencies from 37 other states and the District of Columbia, announced the shuttering of a massive telefunding operation that bombarded 67 million consumers with 1.3 billion deceptive charitable fundraising calls, including many classified as illegal robocalls. The defendants collected more than $110 million using the deceptive solicitations. This massive robocall shutdown is just the latest announcement by Attorney General Moody during 2021 National Consumer Protection Week.
Associated Community Services and its sister companies allegedly conned generous Americans into donating to charities that ACS knew would not provide the services promised. The complaint names ACS, along with Central Processing Services and Community Services Appeal; their owners Dick Cole, Bill Burland, Barbara Cole and Amy Burland; and ACS senior managers Nikole Gilstorf, Tony Lia, John Lucidi and Scot Stepek. In addition, the complaint names Directele Inc. and The Dale Corporation, two fundraising companies allegedly operated by Gilstorf and Lia as spinoffs of ACS. The defendants agreed to settlement terms, including fundraising bans and a monetary judgment that will see funds directed to support charitable purposes as donors originally intended. Pending court approval, most of the total judgment amount of $110 million will be suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay, and approximately $500,000 is expected to be recovered and distributed to one or more charities.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “The number of deceptive robocalls made by this operation is truly shocking. For these defendants to automate billions of calls on behalf of charities only to line their own pockets is utterly disgraceful. I am proud to partner with the FTC and other state agencies to shut down this deceitful operation that harassed millions of Americans across the country, including many here in Florida.” More.
Attorney General Moody Supports Bill Protecting Police K-9s Injured in the Line of Duty
Attorney General Ashley Moody, a staunch supporter of Florida law enforcement, is highlighting legislation aimed at protecting police K-9s injured in the line of duty. Currently, paramedics and emergency medical technicians are not permitted to provide life-saving emergency medical care or transportation to police K-9s injured in the line of duty. Bill sponsor Sen. Tom Wright today joined the Attorney General’s news conference urging passage of the life-saving legislation.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line daily to serve their communities and protect our safety—and their four-legged partners risk their lives protecting them. Police K-9s regularly provide life-saving services, including suspect apprehension, detection and search-and-rescue missions that lead to the arrest of dangerous criminals and the safe return of missing persons. It is a dangerous job for officers and K-9s, and both are often subject to great bodily harm.
“As Attorney General, I am dedicated to providing the best means of protection for all our law enforcement officers, including police K-9s. I am so grateful to Senator Wright and Representative Killebrew for sponsoring bills that will increase the ability of paramedics and EMTs to provide life-saving care and transportation to K-9 police dogs. They dedicate their lives to providing safety to our communities, we must do the same for them." More.
VIDEO: Attorney General Moody Highlights Two-Year Anniversary of Consumer Alert Program
Attorney General Ashley Moody is recognizing the second anniversary of Florida’s Consumer Alert program for National Consumer Protection Week. Attorney General Moody launched the Consumer Alert program in 2019 to warn Floridians of emerging scams and provide resources to avoid fraudsters. Since then, Attorney General Moody has issued approximately 90 Consumer Alerts. Last year, as COVID-19 began to spread in Florida, Attorney General Moody quickly revamped the warning system to focus on virus-related scams—issuing more than 20 COVID-19 specific warnings to date.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “As COVID-19 started to change the way we worked, learned and socialized, scammers quickly adapted to hatch new schemes designed to exploit the pandemic and people’s desire to stay healthy. To stay ahead of these fraudsters, I quickly activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline, assembled our Rapid Response Team and shifted our Consumer Alert Program to address emerging, virus-related scams in real-time.
“As we recognize National Consumer Protection Week, I want to remind Floridians, and more importantly scammers, that our work is not over. We continue to warn about emerging virus-related scams and investigate information provided to our office related to scams and fraudsters.” More.
Behavior Health Analyst Arrested for Medicaid Fraud
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Martin County Sheriff’s Office arrested a behavior health analyst for defrauding the Florida Medicaid program out of thousands of dollars. Chenelle Weaver, employed by Behavior Basics, Inc., provided behavioral health services to Medicaid recipients in St. Lucie County. However, not only did Weaver fail to provide services, the defendant fraudulently charged the Florida Medicaid program thousands of dollars.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “This fraudster schemed and manipulated her way into gaining thousands of taxpayer dollars, all while leaving a Medicaid patient without essential care. It is infuriating that a medical professional trusted to provide care for Floridians would exploit a patient to line their own pockets. My office will continue to aggressively pursue these fraudulent schemes and hold those involved accountable.” More.
Dental Hygienist Practicing as Unlicensed Dentist Arrested for Medicaid Fraud
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Miami-Dade Police Department arrested a dental hygienist illegally practicing as an unlicensed dentist for committing Medicaid fraud. Julio Suarez allegedly preformed unlicensed and unauthorized procedures on patients, defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $8,000.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “It is utterly despicable that a health care professional would knowingly deceive trusting patients about their licenses and credentials in order to practice unlawful dental procedures. To further use that deception to scam the Medicaid program out of thousands of taxpayer dollars is inexcusable and criminal. I am proud of my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for investigating these crimes and putting an end to this illegal dental scheme.” More.
This week, Attorney General Ashley Moody attended the State of the State Address at the opening of Florida’s 2021 Legislative Session.
Attorney General Moody with the first Florida House Law Enforcement Officer of the Day, St. Petersburg Police Department Detective Anthony Peterson.
Attorney General Moody with state Sen. Tom Wright, Volusia County law enforcement officers and police K-9s at a news conference in Daytona Beach, presenting a new bill protecting police K-9s injured in the line of duty.