Attorney General Moody's Week In Review
As Florida’s Attorney General, I am always looking for ways to improve how the public can work with law enforcement to fight crime and protect our communities. Crime Stoppers is a shining example of how we can all work together toward this vital goal.
Crime Stoppers is a proven program with a decades-long track record of helping law enforcement catch dangerous criminals and protect vulnerable communities. This week, I announced a partnership with the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers to announce a new statewide number, **TIPS, to anonymously report crime tips and enhance the way the decades-old program receives information. This streamlined, statewide tool is a first of its kind in the nation.
FACS was established in 1977 as an anonymous citizens crime reporting system. Over the past four decades, the program has proved to be a vital asset in assisting law enforcement with catching dangerous criminals and protecting communities. In the past 12 months alone, FACS has recorded the following stats:
Now, anyone can report a tip about a crime from anywhere in the state anonymously by simply dialing **TIPS. Adding this easy to remember cellphone code to the existing regional Crime Stopper Organizations’ individual phone numbers will present Floridians greater opportunities to report on crimes statewide—no matter their location.
With these advances to this already successful program, we hope even more citizens will help law enforcement solve cases, stop crime and build a Stronger, Safer Florida.
- More than 59,000 citizen tips to members of FACS;
- Tips led to more than 2,700 arrests; and
- FACS paid more than $987,000 for anonymous tips leading to arrests.
CONSUMER ALERT: Deadline to Claim Millions in Tech Support Scams Restitution Approaches
The deadline to claim restitution resulting from the Florida Attorney General’s multimillion-dollar action to stop several tech support scams is fast approaching. The deadline to file a claim is Friday, Oct. 2. Thousands are eligible for restitution nationwide and consumers have already claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Cash is available for consumers who were scammed by several phony tech support companies investigated by my office, but action must be taken before the fast-approaching deadline. If you or someone you know were the victim of one of these tech support scams, please visit the reimbursement website and submit a claim by Friday, Oct. 2.” More.
Attorney General Moody Joins FTC and Other States in a Nationwide Crackdown on Phantom and Abusive Debt Collection
Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Operation Corrupt Collector, a federal-state law enforcement sweep against phantom and abusive debt collection. In a joint effort with the Federal Trade Commission, and more than 50 federal and state law enforcement partners, the initiative involves enforcement actions brought by the FTC, three federal partners and 16 different state agencies against debt collectors engaged in these illegal practices. The sweep includes five cases filed by the FTC, two cases filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three criminal cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. In addition to Florida, states reporting actions as part of the operation include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington. As part of the nationwide sweep, Attorney General Moody issued two warning letters to businesses believed to be involved in abusive, deceptive or unfair debt collection practices.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “In a time when many are struggling with financial uncertainty and challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is reprehensible that some debt collectors harangue consumers through unlawful threats, harassment and fraudulent attempts to collect nonexistent debt. These forms of predatory debt collection practices must end now, and I am confident that through federal and state cooperative efforts such as Operation Corrupt Collector, we will successfully fight for consumers and hold these companies accountable.” More.
BACK THE BLUE ALERT: Attorney General Moody Recognizes Orange County Sergeant for Saving Teen from Suicide
Attorney General Ashley Moody presented a Back the Blue Award to Orange County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Kathleen Ela for her efforts in saving a teen from taking his own life. Sgt. Ela responded to a call of a distressed teen sitting on the edge of a Florida overpass, stating he was tired of life and wanting to jump off the bridge. Sgt. Ela asked for permission to join the teen on the bridge. Once the teen agreed, Sgt. Ela sat next to him for nearly half an hour. Sgt. Ela gained the teen’s trust and offered a pinky swear that he would not be arrested. Sgt. Ela assisted the teen off the ledge and OCSO deputies facilitated getting the teen help.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “I am incredibly proud of the compassionate and thoughtful work carried out by Sgt. Kathleen Ela. A law enforcement officer’s job is not always limited to issuing traffic tickets or responding to criminal activity. They stand ready to protect citizens in our communities regardless of the situation and, for that, we owe them a debt of gratitude. I’m grateful Sgt. Ela was there that day—a life depended on it.” More.
Attorney General Moody Secures Millions Following Multistate Investigation into National Data Breach
Attorney General Ashley Moody secured millions of dollars following a multistate investigation into a major data breach. Florida is part of a $39.5 million agreement stemming from Anthem’s massive data breach involving the personal information of more than 78 million Americans. Florida is receiving more than $600,000 to resolve the multistate investigation. In addition to the payment, Anthem will implement a series of data security and good governance provisions designed to strengthen its practices going forward.
In 2015, Anthem disclosed that cyber attackers infiltrated its systems, beginning in February 2014, using malware installed through a phishing email. The attackers were ultimately able to gain access to Anthem’s data warehouse, where they harvested names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, health care identification numbers, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and employment information for more than 78 million Americans, including approximately 1.5 million Floridians.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Data breaches have far-reaching and long-lasting effects on people’s lives. When companies fail to protect customers’ personal information, they owe it to the public to disclose that information quickly and to take steps to protect them from further damage. I am glad we were able to work with our state partners to resolve this matter and hopefully prevent future breaches and further harm to Anthem customers.” More.
This week, Attorney General Ashley Moody, along with the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, announced a new statewide number for reporting crime tips anonymously. For more information on the new resource, click here.
Attorney General Moody with National Drug Control Policy Director Jim Carroll, U.S. Attorney of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Maria Chapa Lopez in Hillsborough County for a meeting with law enforcement leaders on curbing the national opioid crisis. The meeting also officially designated neighboring Manatee County a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
Attorney General Moody meeting virtually with the Florida Association of Clerks and Comptrollers to discuss future partnerships between her office and their organization.