Attorney General Moody's Week In Review
Throughout this health crisis we have seen a steady increase in COVID-19 related robocalls, and this week, my office, along with a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general, requested more tools to stop these scam messages.
We are urging USTelecom and its Industry Traceback Group to further develop robocall traceback and other tools in an effort to improve enforcement against illegal robocalls. Our coalition sent a letter to USTelecom asking them to advance the Industry Traceback Group’s abilities in identifying robocall campaigns, trends and business ecosystems; conducting automated traceback investigations; and coordinating with relevant law enforcement agencies.
We have seen an uptick in illegal robocalls during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these enhancements will allow us to more aggressively track, trace and investigate illegal robocall operations to protect Floridians.
I am proud to stand with my fellow attorneys general to stop this illegal and unrelenting practice, as well as assist law enforcement by making sure they have the latest tools needed to combat these illegal operations.
My office continues to be an active leader in fighting illegal robocalls, pressing Congress to pass stricter regulations and most recently, warning Floridians about the increase of COVID-19 related robocalls and steps they can take to avoid falling for these scam messages.
The best advice I can give anyone receiving an illegal robocall is, just hang up. Then report the call to the FTC online at FTC.gov/complaint.
Please educate yourself about illegal robocalls and COVID-19 related scams by visiting our Consumer Alert page, and remember, if we work together, we can end this crisis.
Stay safe, Florida.
In The News
Ashley Moody Pushes for More Aggressive Tools to Fight Illegal Robocalls During Coronavirus Pandemic, Florida Daily
Price gouging complaints lead to $350K in refunds, WJXT Jacksonville
Attorney General’s office refunds nearly $350,000 in overcharged, high demand products, WINK News
$350,000 returned to Floridians amid price gouging investigations, WESH Orlando
Moody: Price-Gouging Not Tolerated in Florida, WUWF Northwest Florida
Woman arrested for stealing Hurricane Michael insurance money and government benefits, Attorney General says, WCTV Tallahassee
Pasco son accused of stealing thousands from elderly, disabled parents, Tampa Bay Times
Florida Cancer Specialists agrees to $120M in antitrust-related penalties, Fort Myers News-Press
Moody Reaches $20M Settlement In Oncology Probe, Health News Florida
Ashley Moody Announces Multimillion-Dollar Agreement with Statewide Oncology Practice, Florida Daily
Uber to provide free shelter rides for domestic violence victims in 3 Florida counties, Miami Herald
Ashley Moody, Uber announce free rides away from domestic violence, Florida Politics
Free Uber rides available for domestic violence victims, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody says, ABC Action News
WATCH: Florida Attorney General Highlights How to Report Scamming with the ‘No Scam’ App, Space Coast Daily
FTC: Over 36,000 coronavirus fraud complaints with $24.4M in losses this year, WJXT Jacksonville
Price gouging complaints lead to refunds, WPEC West Palm Beach
Florida Attorney General Works with Uber to Help Domestic Violence Victims Escape Abuse, Space Coast Daily
Attorney General: COVID-19 hasn’t slowed down human traffickers, Florida Politics
Florida Supreme Court Considers Cannabis Legalization Proposal, High Times
Woman Arrested for Stealing Hurricane Michael Insurance Money and Government Benefits
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit announced the arrest of a woman for exploitation of an elderly adult. The arrest follows an investigation by MFCU and the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs that uncovered Billie Jo Ethridge used power of attorney to steal veterans benefits and property insurance money awarded to a senior for home repairs due to damage caused by Hurricane Michael. According to the investigation, over an eight-month period, Ethridge used her position to take more than $63,000 from the senior victim.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “A senior who suffered property damage due to Hurricane Michael trusted the defendant with important financial decisions. Instead of using the insurance payments to repair the victim’s home, the defendant stole the money for her own personal use. We will not tolerate the exploitation of our seniors and I am proud of the work of our MFCU investigators, partnering with the VA, to hold this defendant accountable for these despicable actions.” More.
Pasco County Resident Arrested for Identity Theft and Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Tarpon Springs Police Department arrested a Pasco County resident for exploiting two seniors under the defendant’s care. Ronald Rose, Jr., 48, withdrew thousands of dollars from the relatives’ bank accounts without approval to spend on personal expenses such as rent, vehicle payments and phone services.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “My office is committed to protecting seniors. Older Floridians should not have to worry about being taken advantage of by those entrusted with their care. Thank you, to my MFCU team, for stopping this unconscionable behavior and I look forward to my Office of Statewide Prosecution now holding the defendant responsible for these crimes.” More.
VIDEO: Consumers Use NO SCAM App to Report COVID-19 Related Price Gouging
Attorney General Ashley Moody highlighted the NO SCAM reporting app for its role in helping consumers report COVID-19 related price gouging. Attorney General Moody launched the price gouging reporting app last year to assist Floridians in reporting outrageous price increases on hurricane-related commodities. As COVID-19 cases began to emerge in the United States, Attorney General Moody quickly adapted the app to intake reports of excessive price increases on essential commodities covered under the Governor’s emergency declaration.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Consumers are our eyes and ears in the marketplace helping us spot and deter price gouging. That is why we developed a reporting app and adapted it to intake evidence of COVID-19 related price increases. The app allows users to quickly and conveniently report outrageously priced items and upload pictures of price labels, screenshots, receipts and any other supporting documentation they come across while trying to purchase commodities to protect their health. The information they provide helps our investigators advance price gouging investigations, secure refunds and deter the selling of essential commodities for exorbitant prices.” More.
VIDEO: Attorney General Moody Works with Uber to Provide Rides to Help Victims of Domestic Violence Escape Abuse
Attorney General Ashley Moody and Uber announced a program to offer free rides to help victims of domestic violence escape abuse. There are reports of increases in domestic violence calls in some parts of the state while calls for safe shelter and abuse counseling are decreasing in many locations. There is growing concern that victims of abuse may not know that help and safe shelter are still available as social distancing measures are taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Through this new program, free Uber rides will be directed to domestic violence shelters in areas of Florida that have seen the highest call volumes including Hillsborough, Orange and Pinellas counties.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Victims of domestic violence need to know that help is still available and there are people who care deeply about their health and safety. Victims do not have to stay isolated with their abusers. Domestic violence shelters remain open around the state, and through this new program with Uber, I am hopeful that we can connect more victims with the shelter and life-saving services they need to escape abuse and begin the healing process.” More.
Attorney General Moody Encourages Vigilance in Protecting Human Trafficking Victims During COVID-19
Attorney General Ashley Moody is reminding the public that human trafficking continues to plague the state and the country despite the health risks of COVID-19. We must stay vigilant in reporting human trafficking and victims should know that resources are still available.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Human traffickers aren’t stopping despite the health threats from COVID-19—and neither will we cease our efforts to stop them. It is abhorrent that unscrupulous individuals would take advantage of the pandemic and try to lure people through the use of force, fraud or coercion for nefarious purposes when so many find themselves on hard times. We need to continue to be vigilant in our fight to combat human trafficking. Know the signs of human trafficking, and if you see something, say something.
“The National Human Trafficking Hotline remains fully operational. If you suspect human trafficking, or if you are a victim yourself, there are resources available and by calling Polaris at 1(888) 373-7888, the hotline can help finding safe ways to escape abusers and shelter in place.” More.
Former Florida State Hospital Employee Arrested for Abusing Disabled Adult
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Baker County Sheriff’s Office arrested a former Northeast Florida State Hospital employee for abusing a disabled adult. Cami Leann Craig allegedly antagonized, sprayed a liquid chemical at, and then chased a disabled adult patient. While fleeing from Craig, the victim ran into a concrete wall causing injury to the victim’s head.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “This incident is extremely concerning, and it is heartbreaking to imagine how scared the victim must have been to flee so abruptly from a caregiver. We trust these caregivers to take care of some of the most vulnerable Floridians and this violent behavior will not be tolerated by my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.” More.