Attorney General Moody's Week In Review
This week, I issued a Consumer Alert for Floridians with loved ones residing in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Reports of these facilities seizing residents’ stimulus payments are beginning to surface nationwide.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, some facility operators are taking payments meant for residents on Medicaid—justifying the seizure by claiming the facility, not the individual, is entitled to the payments.
This is disgraceful and unacceptable.
As we have seen throughout this crisis, residents in these facilities are at a higher risk of suffering and dying from COVID-19. They shouldn’t have to carry the additional burden of worrying about their stimulus money being taken by those entrusted with their care. CARES Act payments are classified as a tax credit, not a federal benefit, and are allocated to individuals, not these facilities.
Please check on your loved ones living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Ask if their stimulus payments have been received. If they haven’t, ask the facility’s management if they are holding the payments.
If they are, contact my office immediately by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com. For more information, please visit my Consumer Alert webpage at MyFloridaLegal.com/ConsumerAlert.
Stay safe, Florida.
In The News
Florida AG warns that nursing homes cannot seize patients’ stimulus checks, WINK News
Consumer Alert: Some nursing homes are stealing stimulus payments from residents, Florida Politics
Florida AG: Nursing homes can’t claim your loved one’s stimulus payments, WJXT Jacksonville
FTC warns some nursing homes, assisted living facilities trying to take patient stimulus checks, Action News Jax
Don’t let nursing homes take stimulus checks, Florida AG warns, WFLA Tampa
Florida AG: Don't let nursing homes take your loved one's stimulus check, WEAR Pensacola
Customers want a resolution to attorney general investigation into A/C contractor, WINK News
Petland sold ‘sick puppies,’ says complaint filed by Florida attorney general, Orlando Sentinel
Florida attorney general says Petland store sold sick puppies as ‘high quality, healthy’, Miami Herald
Ashley Moody takes on Orlando pet store selling sick puppies, Florida Politics
Attorney General gives update to price gouging crisis, WMBB Panama City
Ashley Moody Warns About Robocall, Phishing and Imposter Scams as Florida Reopens, Florida Daily
State warns of COVID scams, Key West Citizen
COVID-19 scammers are exploiting Florida’s reopening, attorney general warns, Sun Sentinel
COVID-19: Price gouging, robocalls, census scams prompt statewide warnings, crackdown, Orlando Sentinel
Ashley Moody secures $7.7 million from Santander for ‘taking advantage’ of borrowers, Florida Politics
Ashley Moody: Millions in Relief from Subprime Auto Financing Company Headed to Florida, Florida Daily
Attorney General seek to honor first responders killed or injured by COVID-19, Port Charlotte Sun
Attorney General Ashley Moody Urges Congress To Clear Barriers To Death Benefits For Families Of First Responders, WFSU Public Media
Destin healthcare worker charged with elder abuse, Northwest Florida Daily News
Judge grants motion to appoint receiver over Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Florida Politics
Florida coalition that paid CEO $7.5 million has its money taken over by receiver, Tampa Bay Times
VIDEO: Attorney General Moody Recognizes Price Gouging Hotline Team Members for Working to Protect Florida Consumers During Crisis
Attorney General Ashley Moody highlighted the hardworking team members operating the Price Gouging Hotline. Attorney General Moody activated the Price Gouging Hotline following the Governor’s COVID-19 emergency declaration. Since the activation, team members operating the hotline have fielded thousands of calls and processed thousands more online contacts from consumers reporting alleged price gouging and other virus-related scams.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “The team members operating our Price Gouging Hotline have worked tirelessly throughout this crisis—fielding calls and complaints from Floridians concerned about outrageous price increases and scams. Many of them quickly adapted to working remotely. Others, following strict CDC health guidelines, social distanced and worked periodically from our call center. Their dedication to our mission of protecting Floridians has helped our Consumer Protection Division Rapid Response Team secure more than half a million dollars in refunds for consumers and further price gouging investigations.” More.
Attorney General Moody Takes Action Against a Local Pet Store Alleged to be Selling Sick Puppies
Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a complaint against Hoof’s Pets, Inc., d/b/a Petland Orlando East and Petland Waterford Lakes, and its owners and directors Geoffrey M. Hoofnagle and Ben W. Hoofnagle. The defendants allegedly misrepresent to consumers that the puppies are healthy, high-quality animals, and fit for sale, when in fact, in some instances, puppies have died soon after being purchased or suffered from congenital or other hereditary disorders.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “The sale of sick and dying puppies is both immoral and illegal. Planning for a new puppy requires a great deal of time and money—and certainly there is an emotional investment. Families deserve the assurance that they will in fact receive the high-quality puppy they were promised. It is reprehensible that the defendants would exploit the trust of new pet owners to make a profit while risking the health and safety of these puppies.” More.
VIDEO CONSUMER ALERT: Beware of Robocall, Phishing and Imposter Scams as Florida Reopens
Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a Consumer Alert urging continued vigilance as Florida slowly starts to reopen. Many retail stores, restaurants and other businesses in select industries are already partially open. Scammers may try to exploit the now expanding marketplace to take advantage of consumers and small businesses.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “As Florida businesses begin to slowly and thoughtfully re-emerge, scammers will look for ways to exploit the reopening to make a dishonest dollar. I want Floridians and business owners to be on the lookout for new scams associated with reopening and report fraud to our office.” More.
Attorney General Moody Secures $550 Million in Borrower Relief from Nation’s Largest Subprime Auto Financing Company
Attorney General Ashley Moody, along with a coalition of 34 attorneys general, secured an agreement with Santander Consumer USA Inc. that includes approximately $550 million in relief nationally for auto loan borrowers, with even more relief expected in the form of additional deficiency waivers. Floridians are eligible for more than $7.7 million in consumer restitution and more than $35 million in waivers for balances owed on certain car loans owned by Santander. The proposed consent judgment, accompanying a complaint filed in circuit court in Hillsborough County, resolves allegations that Santander violated consumer protection laws by exposing subprime consumers to unnecessarily high levels of risk and knowingly placing these consumers into auto loans with a high probability of default.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “My office is committed to holding irresponsible lenders and servicers accountable when they take advantage of economically challenged Floridians. I urge affected Floridians to pursue their claims through the process made possible by this multistate settlement.” More.
VIDEO: Attorney General Moody Leads Coalition of Attorneys General Urging Congress to Pass Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act
Attorney General Ashley Moody is leading a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general urging Congress to pass S.3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act. The Act would permit the families of first responders, who die or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19, to receive the same federal benefits extended to first responders, or their survivors, otherwise killed or injured in the line of duty. Sadly, several Florida law enforcement officers have already succumbed to the novel coronavirus. Current federal law would only allow survivors access to certain benefits if evidence is provided proving the deceased or permanently disabled first responder contracted COVID-19 while on duty.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Law enforcement officers are risking their health and safety to keep us safe from crime amid the worst pandemic in our lifetime. Many officers are being coughed at on purpose by criminals they encounter while protecting their communities. Tragically, some have contracted COVID-19 and succumbed to this deadly disease. As the wife of a law enforcement officer, I know the risks our first responders face, and how this pandemic has only increased the dangers of their service and the stress placed on their loved ones. More.
Judge Rules in Favor of Attorney General Moody’s Motion, Appoints Receiver over FCADV Foundation
A Leon County Circuit Judge ruled in favor of Attorney General Ashley Moody, granting a motion to appoint a receiver over the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Foundation. The receiver, Mark Healy, is already the receiver over the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and now controls the Foundation’s assets amounting to approximately $1.5 million plus some undeveloped parcels of real estate. Healy can use $500,000 of the Foundation’s funds to pay creditors, fund the mission of FCADV, distribute money to the state’s 42 domestic violence shelters and for administrative costs. The remaining funds will be held by the receiver under court supervision. Today’s ruling also ensures former Chief Executive Officer Tiffany Carr will no longer control the Foundation’s finances.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Today’s ruling will help ensure funds contributed by donors will be used to support the mission of the FCADV as intended. Furthermore, the ruling advances our fight to hold former CEO Tiffany Carr accountable for the misappropriation of millions of dollars provided to the FCADV to help victims of domestic violence. We will continue to litigate this case to ensure justice is served.” More.
Caregiver Arrested for Neglect of an Elderly Adult
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of a Fort Walton Beach woman for neglecting an elderly adult for more than a month. While employed at Destin Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Deanna Kay Tobin oversaw the care of pressure wounds by nurses and staff under her supervision. Tobin, charged with tending to elderly patients, failed to do so, and authorities arrested her on Wednesday.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “The behavior exhibited by this caregiver is disturbing and unacceptable. Residents and loved ones should never have to worry about whether treatment will be administered while in a long-term care facility. To neglect a resident for more than a month is shameful, dangerous and will not be tolerated.” More.
California Man Arrested for Bilking Dozens of Florida Seniors with the Promise of Eliminating Mortgage Payments
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’s Department of Financial Services today announced the arrest of a California man bilking Florida seniors. California authorities Thursday arrested Carlo Hamrahi in Los Angeles on a warrant issued out of Lee County, Florida. The arrest follows an investigation by DFS and OSP uncovering massive mortgage fraud targeting dozens of seniors.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “For many seniors, their homes are their most valuable asset and a cornerstone of their retirement plan. The defendant in this case used the allure of reducing or eliminating mortgage payments to defraud Florida seniors. He promised them financial freedom and in doing so risked losing his own freedom for decades to come. I want to commend my Statewide Prosecutors and DFS investigators for their diligent efforts in this case. I also want to thank California authorities for apprehending the suspect.” More.