Attorney General Moody's Week In Review
It all started with what the public would call a routine traffic stop, although anyone who works with law enforcement knows there is no such thing. That stop in January caused deputies at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to launch a crucial investigation that led to the rescue of five sex trafficking victims—women who were repeatedly drugged and sold for sex.
Deputies arrested six men charged with human trafficking. I joined these deputies and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister this week as he announced the arrests and called on the public to assist with the ongoing investigation by providing more information about the criminal organization responsible for these horrendous crimes.
We are grateful to Sheriff Chronister, who serves as the Chair for the Statewide Human Trafficking Criminal Justice Subcommittee, and his highly-trained deputies. Without men and women like them, without people willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect the vulnerable, criminals like those at the center of this massive human trafficking investigation would continue to wreak havoc on our communities.
As Florida’s Attorney General and Chair of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, I can tell you that human trafficking is a 24/7 criminal enterprise. Not even a global pandemic that has millions limiting personal contact and staying at home stops it from happening. But you can help us fight back. Learn the signs at YouCanStopHT.com and if you see something suspicious, speak up. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1(888) 373-7888.
By reporting suspicious activity, you can help us end human trafficking and build a Stronger, Safer Florida.
VIDEO CONSUMER ALERT: Beware of Fake COVID-19 Contact Tracing Calls
Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a Consumer Alert asking Floridians to exercise caution when answering COVID-19 contact tracing calls. To slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, state public health professionals are calling Floridians who may have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. These calls are an extremely vital tool in the state’s effort to contain the spread of the virus, but Floridians need to take steps to verify that the call is from the local county health department before providing information.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Unfortunately, we can’t trust the voice on the other end of the phone to always be truthful—even in the face of a deadly pandemic. I want to encourage all Floridians to engage with legitimate health professionals working to contain the spread of COVID-19, but to be cautious before providing information.” More.
Florida Attorney General Investigation Leads to Arrest of Woman Falsifying Academic Degrees and Health Care Credentials
Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the arrest of a Manatee County resident for Medicaid fraud and scheme to defraud. The arrest by the Bradenton Police Department follows an investigation by Attorney General Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit acting on information received from the Agency for Health Care Administration. The investigation revealed that Kharma Rogers allegedly falsified academic degrees and certified medical credentials to become an approved Medicaid program provider.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Cheating your way through a doctoral degree and board certifications is dishonest, shameful and illegal. This fraudster lied and deceived patients and the Medicaid program all in a scheme designed to steal taxpayer dollars. I am appalled that someone would go to such lengths to deceive patients trusting them with their health and safety.” More.
Six Arrested for Stealing the Identities of Florida Seniors
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution announced the final arrest of six individuals suspected of stealing the personal information of more than 100 victims—including dozens of Florida seniors. The arrests follow an investigation by Attorney General Moody’s OSP, the Hillsborough County’s Sheriff’s Office, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and St. Petersburg Police Department. According to the investigation, Samishia Askew, Gregory Engram, Carnessa Rouse, Towan Rush, Donta White and Valisha Williams used the victims’ personal information to obtain scores of credit cards from multiple banks. Losses totaled more than $650,000. PCSO took Williams, the final defendant arrested, into custody earlier this week.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “I am outraged that anyone would target Florida seniors in this way—stealing their identities to open fraudulent credit card accounts. We will not allow criminal organizations to prey on seniors in Florida, and my Office of Statewide Prosecution will continue to partner with our great law enforcement agencies to stop fraud and ensure those that would exploit Floridians—especially our seniors—will face justice.” More.
VIDEO CONSUMER ALERT: Attorney General Moody Warns Floridians of Lottery Scam Targeting Seniors
Attorney General Ashley Moody is issuing a Consumer Alert to warn Floridians about a new lottery scam targeting seniors. The Florida Attorney General’s Office is receiving reports that scammers are notifying seniors of fake lottery prize earnings with instructions to send a check in order to verify banking information and receive the prize.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “The possibility of winning the lottery is an exciting dream for millions of Americans—including many Florida seniors. Scammers are trying to hijack that dream and turn it into a nightmare all in an effort to steal from Floridians. My office is receiving reports of new lottery scams, and we are working to ensure all Floridians are protected from and informed about these emerging disgraceful tactics to rip off seniors.” More.
Home and Community-Based Services Business Owner Arrested for Defrauding Medicaid Out of More Than $200,000
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, along with the U.S. Marshall Fugitive Task Force, arrested a home and community-based services business owner for defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $200,000. Lorna Dukes owned and operated 3D Living & Home Services Inc., that provided HCBS to Medicaid recipients.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Billing for services not provided to extort money from the Florida Medicaid program is reprehensible. My office is taking decisive legal action to stop this unlawful activity and protect taxpayer dollars. We will continue to pursue allegations of Medicaid Fraud to stop illegal activity and hold fraudsters responsible for their criminal actions.” More.
VIDEO: Attorney General Moody Recovers More Than $700,000 for Consumers Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Attorney General Ashley Moody announced more than $700,000 in recoveries for consumers contacting the Florida Attorney General's Office regarding COVID-19 related purchases and scams. Florida remains under a state of emergency due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Governor Ron DeSantis issued the emergency declaration in March. Following the declaration, Attorney General Moody activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline for consumers to file complaints related to essential commodities needed to prevent contracting the virus.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “As Florida’s Attorney General, I will always do whatever it takes to help consumers that have been taken advantage of—especially in times of crisis. That is why even before the emergency declaration went into effect, we were working with businesses and consumers to secure refunds, remove online posts offering items for outrageous prices and stop deceptive business practices. I am pleased with the results we are getting for consumers, but rest assured, our work is far from over and we continue to wake up early every day and focus on building a stronger, safer Florida.” More.
This week, Attorney General Ashley Moody joined Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and his deputies at a news conference in Tampa announcing the arrests of six suspects in a massive human trafficking case. As a result of the operation, law enforcement rescued five victims of human trafficking.
The 2020 Human Trafficking Summit will be held virtually this year for the first time in its existence. We are looking forward to the opportunities that come with a virtual layout, including new and exciting speakers and the ability to view more presentations. Don’t miss out, the Summit will be active starting Oct. 6.
Registration is now open! To register and for more information, such as speaker proposal forms and award recommendations, please visit HumanTraffickingSummit.com.
This Summit is free of charge and more than 1,750 registrants already applied. Our state is committed to making Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking. Together, we can combat human trafficking.
Attorney General Moody congratulates Cedell Ian Garland, Esq. on winning The Florida Bar’s 2020 Claude Pepper Outstanding Government Lawyer Award. Garland works in the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, recovering restitution and penalties from parties defrauding the Florida Medicaid program. The award is presented to a government lawyer whose character and accomplishments exemplify the highest ideas of government service. For more information about Garland winning the award, click here.