Attorney General Moody's Week In Review

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the daily routines of millions of Americans, including how human traffickers operate their criminal enterprises.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, crisis cases increased nationwide by more than 40% during April 2020—one month following the issuance of shelter-in-place orders. The number of victims seeking emergency shelter nearly doubled during the same time period.

These heartbreaking and disturbing preliminary reports show us just how much work needs to be done to stop these monsters from forcing more innocent lives into this despicable, illicit enterprise.

This week, in partnership with the It’s a Penalty campaign and the Tampa International Airport, my office helped unveil new human trafficking prevention signs across TPA. With Super Bowl LV coming to Tampa in February, and the second straight year of the Super Bowl being held in our state, Florida expects to see a surge in visitors. These signs are designed for victims to reach out for help and for encouraging travelers and airport staff to report instances of human trafficking.

For more information about how to spot and report human trafficking, visit Floridians can also still register for our virtual 2020 Human Trafficking Summit to access hours of educational content.

I encourage all Floridians to learn the signs of human trafficking. Take preventative actions to protect yourself and your family’s online activity from human traffickers looking to exploit the virtual world to advance this repulsive, heinous crime.

If you suspect or witness any instance of human trafficking, contact local law enforcement or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1(888) 373-7888.

By reporting instances of human trafficking and helping citizens become more aware, we will build a Stronger, Safer Florida.
Ashley Moody
Protecting Floridians
VIDEO CONSUMER ALERT: Watch Out for Fraud as $166 Billion in Stimulus Payments are Deposited and Mailed

As the federal government begins delivering additional stimulus payments across the country in the new $166 billion stimulus package, Floridians should be wary of potential fraud related to the economic relief. Floridians are already receiving payments both through direct deposit and mailed checks. Attorney General Ashley Moody wants to make sure Floridians are prepared to spot and avoid scams related to the federal payments. Attorney General Moody issued a Consumer Alert highlighting scams related to the latest stimulus payments and tips to help Floridians avoid falling prey.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “As we have seen throughout the pandemic, bad actors are looking for ways to exploit the crisis to steal money, government benefits and people’s identities. With direct payments already received or on the way to Floridians’ bank accounts, I am asking consumers to remain vigilant in their efforts to identify and avoid scams designed to steal federal payments or personal information. The best way to do this is to stay informed about how and when you will receive your stimulus payment and avoid solicitations requiring personal information, upfront payments or other actions in exchange for federal money.” More.

Attorney General Moody Enlists Airport in Effort to Prevent Human Trafficking Ahead of Super Bowl LV

Attorney General Ashley Moody is enlisting a major international travel hub in the battle to prevent human trafficking ahead of Super Bowl LV. Along with It’s a Penalty, Attorney General Moody unveiled human trafficking awareness signs at Tampa International Airport. The messages are placed strategically throughout the airport to encourage travelers to report human trafficking and urge victims being flown in for the big game to reach out for help. The signs are just one part of a multifaceted blitz to increase human trafficking reporting as thousands of visitors are expected to utilize the airport during the week of the Super Bowl.

This is the second year in a row Florida is hosting the Super Bowl. According to police reports from the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami, 47 human trafficking related arrests were made, which lead to the rescue of 22 victims. Law enforcement officials anticipate similar trafficking efforts to take place this year in Tampa.

Attorney General Ashley Moody
said, “Super Bowl LIV brought many adoring fans to our state last year, ready to fully enjoy the game and festivities. Unfortunately, as with any event attracting huge crowds, the event also attracted black market vendors and customers. Human traffickers exploit these types of events to increase their terrible transactions at the expense of their captives and the benefit of their bottom line. Sadly, even the deadly pandemic will not stop these criminals from targeting our state, but we are ready to stop them. We have home field advantage and are united in our efforts to combat human trafficking ahead of Super Bowl LV in Tampa.

“I am proud to partner with It’s a Penalty to bring human trafficking awareness signs to Tampa International Airport ahead of this year’s Super Bowl. With thousands expected to travel through the airport in the week leading up to the game, these signs will offer travelers and potential victims invaluable—and in some cases life-saving—information and resources.”

Attorney General Moody Shuts Down Florida Diploma Mill and Secures Restitution for Students

Attorney General Ashley Moody is recovering funds for students of a Florida diploma mill after the Attorney General’s Office successfully litigated and obtained the shutdown of the sham academy. Earlier this week, Attorney General Moody secured the court’s approval of a consent judgment providing restitution for students and permanent injunction against Riverview-based Ellenwood Academy, LLC and the diploma mill’s owner Joseph Williams.

The Hillsborough County Circuit Court awarded the stipulated relief that includes a permanent ban against Ellenwood Academy and Williams on operating, managing, owning, directing or maintaining any financial interest in a business that markets high school or equivalency diplomas. Following an investigation by Attorney General Moody’s Consumer Protection Division, the court also awarded monetary relief, including restitution to consumers, civil penalties and fees.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “For many, obtaining a high school education or equivalent diploma is a steppingstone to a better career and more prosperous life. It is deeply discouraging that the defendants in this case took advantage of those aspirations to rip off students attempting to work towards a better life. On top of taking fees from consumers for spurious diplomas, Ellenwood Academy also cost some graduates their jobs once employers discovered their diplomas were not meaningfully accredited. More.
This week, Attorney General Ashley Moody announced a new human trafficking prevention strategy, in partnership with the It’s a Penalty campaign and the Tampa International Airport, ahead of Super Bowl LV in February. Signage across TPA is being placed for incoming and outgoing travelers to help them spot and report instances of human trafficking.

Attorney General Ashley Moody swearing in, virtually, new Broward County law enforcement leaders as part of the Broward County Chiefs of Police Association’s Installation Ceremony.