----- Original Message -----
From: "AGNews" <AGNews@oag.state.fl.us>
To: "AGNews" <AGNews@oag.state.fl.us>
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2006 11:46 AM
Subject: Attorney General's News Briefs
> This week's edition of the Attorney General's newsletter News Briefs is
> now available for subscribers.
> Please click the web address below to view the current issue.
> February 10, 2006 - Volume 4, Issue 6:
> Please do not hit Reply to send a message to Attorney General
> Crist or the Attorney General's Office. This email address cannot
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> General's Office, please go to
> and use the convenient Contact Form provided there. Thank you.
> The text version of the e-Newsletter is below.
> Message from Attorney General Charlie Crist
> Across our nation this week, states have been marking National
> Consumer Protection Week. As circumstances would have it, this week
> provided a clear demonstration of just how far-reaching consumer
> issues can be, and just how wide-ranging our efforts must be to
> protect our citizens.
> This week alone, our office took actions to protect consumers against
> everything from the swampland scams of a bygone era to the most modern
> forms of internet schemes. We also had to take the unpleasant step of
> shutting down an assisted living facility that took elderly residents’
> money but failed to deliver the services their money was supposed to
> In conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, the Attorney
> General’s Office issued a Top Ten list of categories of fraud
> complaints we received in 2005. Complaints about builders and
> contractors topped the list, not surprising in light of all the
> repairs and new construction forced by two record-setting hurricane
> The Top Ten list included a number of traditional areas of complaint -
> auto repairs, insurance problems and mortgage and lending scams - as
> well as some emerging issues of the 21st Century, including
> internet-related fraud and identity theft. We hope that awareness of
> the most common types of schemes will allow Florida consumers to keep
> themselves from becoming the next victims.
> Earlier in the week I was proud to join my predecessor, former
> Attorney General Bob Butterworth, and two university presidents in
> announcing a new online national clearinghouse and research center
> targeting fraud and other economic crimes. The new Center for the
> Study of Economic Crimes, jointly operated by Florida State University
> and St. Thomas University, provides a potent tool for authorities to
> use in identifying and stopping consumer fraud and other illegal
> economic activities. The support of FSU President T.K. Wetherell and
> St. Thomas President Monsignor Franklin Casale have been invaluable in
> establishing the Center.
> The old and the new: On Wednesday, our Office of Statewide Prosecution
> won a conviction against a Hernando County man who resurrected the
> historic Florida swampland scam when he sold useless East Everglades
> land to more than a dozen buyers at ten times its true value. Then on
> Thursday, we were pleased to announce that a company we previously
> sued had shut down several websites that had been used to sell the
> private, personal phone records of unsuspecting victims.
> Finally, late Thursday our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit led a surprise
> inspection at a Pinellas County assisted living facility, just five
> weeks after the state notified the facility that it was out of
> compliance with health and safety regulations. What we found was a
> blatant disregard for the well-being of the elderly health care
> consumers who made that facility their home. These consumers’ dignity
> and safety were violated, and we took immediate action to shut down
> the facility.
> Our efforts on behalf of consumers take many other forms as well,
> including such areas as identity theft, internet pharmacy scams,
> Medicaid fraud and post-hurricane price gouging.
> Though these efforts cover a wide range of activities, they all have
> one thing in common - a deep, unshakable commitment to protecting the
> consumers of Florida. Three years ago I established this as one of the
> foremost priorities for the Attorney General’s Office, and I am proud
> of our lengthy track record of successes on behalf of Florida’s
> My deepest hope would be that no Florida consumer ever falls victim to
> a con man, shady business operator or ripoff artist. Until that hope
> can become a reality, the Attorney General’s Office will remain
> committed to doing everything it can to see that these offenders are
> caught and punished.
> Charlie Crist
> OTHER NEWS
> NEW ANTI-FRAUD TOOL - Attorney General Crist and former Attorney
> General Bob Butterworth, joined by University Presidents T.K.
> Wetherell of Florida State University and Monsignor Franklin Casale of
> St. Thomas University, announced a new online national clearinghouse
> and research center to help in the fight against fraud and other
> economic crimes. The Center for the Study of Economic Crimes, jointly
> operated by FSU’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the
> St. Thomas University School of Law, will help identify emerging
> trends in fraudulent activity, promote enforcement strategies and
> conduct academic research into the origins, patterns, effects and
> control of fraud.
> TOP 10 FRAUD COMPLAINTS - Attorney General Crist issued a Top 10 list
> of the categories of fraud complaints received by his office in 2005,
> as part of National Consumer Protection Week (February 5-11).
> Complaints about builders and contractors topped the list, which also
> included identity theft and internet-related complaints.
> TELEPHONE PRIVACY PROTECTED - A company sued two weeks ago by the
> Attorney General’s Office has shut down four web sites that were
> selling the personal telephone records of unsuspecting consumers. The
> Fort Lauderdale-based company, 1st Source Information Specialists,
> Inc., placed a notice on its internet sites indicating that it will no
> longer accept new orders and will not process any pending orders.
> Attorney General Crist filed the state's lawsuit on January 24,
> charging that the company was in violation of Florida's Unfair and
> Deceptive Trade Practices Act and civil conspiracy laws.
> ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY CLOSED - Attorney General Crist announced
> that a Pinellas County assisted living facility is being shut down due
> to numerous health and safety violations. As part of the Operation
> Spot Check program, an investigation by the Attorney General's
> Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and various agencies revealed that the
> facility was incapable of properly responding to an emergency drill.
> During a surprise drill, residents of the Palm Harbor facility were
> left unattended, several were trapped in wheelchairs on the second
> floor of the building, and at least four residents were never
> evacuated from the premises.
> SALE OF FLORIDA SWAMPLAND - Prompting memories of a decades-old scam,
> Attorney General Crist announced the conviction a Hernando County man
> on charges he sold Florida swampland to several Miami residents during
> the 1980s and 1990s. The defendant was convicted of selling vacant
> land to 13 individuals in an area known as the East Everglades,
> charging them $15,000 for 1-1/4 acres lots that were later appraised
> by the federal government as being worth about one-tenth of that
> amount. Victims testified that the defendant misled them by claiming
> the land was suitable for building and that roads would be extended
> to their property, failing to disclose that local government had
> determined that no roads would be built and the land was unsuitable
> for development.
> NEWS RELEASES
> Crist: Spot Check Shuts Down Pinellas Assisted Living Facility
> Crist: Websites Hawking Phone Records Shut Down
> Crist Heralds Consumer Protection Week, Warns of Common Scams
> Hernando Man Convicted for Selling Swamplands to Floridians
> Crist, Butterworth Join University Presidents
> to Unveil Anti-Fraud Website
> NEWS CLIPS OF INTEREST
> State closes assisted living facility
> Tamarac company shuts Web sites amid AG suit
> Lawsuits force firm to close Web sites
> New Website To Help Combat Fraud, Economic Crime
> Universities unveil anti-fraud Web site
> Florida Attorney General Introduces Anti-Fraud Site
> Builders/contractors top category for 2005 Florida fraud complaints
> Insurance Ranks Third on Fla. Attorney General's List of Common Scams
> Schools readied for prevention week
> Teens warned of dating violence
> Companies settle charges of deceptive advertising against Hispanics
> Ameriquest settlement to pay off in Florida
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> Thank you.
""Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't
matter, and those who matter don't mind."" by Dr. Seuss.
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