In recent years, Florida has become the center of fraudulent activity according to many. South Florida, particularly Tampa and Miami, has seen a sharp increase in arrests and prosecutions for many types of fraud. Florida is now considered the hub of mortgage fraud, Medicare fraud and tax fraud among law enforcement officials. In response, state and federal agencies are devoting greater resources in a targeted attack on people suspected of fraud. The Fort Myers Fraud Conference last week covered many of the issues surrounding the proliferation of fraud and the means used to prevent it.

The filing of false tax returns was a hot topic at the conference. Florida is again considered a central location for this form of fraud which is often accompanied by identity theft. According to law enforcement officials, the filing of false returns is seven times more common now than it was three years ago. Mortgage and bank fraud also drew attention. The increase in those forms of fraud caused the Office of the Inspector General to open new offices in Fort Myers and Miami in recent years.

Officials at the conference are encouraging people who believe they have been the victims of fraud to file complaints. More investigations, arrests and prosecutions are the likely result of such a drive. The increase in fraud-related activity has also caused courts to greatly enhance the punishments levied for many white collar crimes. The sentences and scandals make headlines and increase the furor surrounding financial crimes.

Source: Naples News, “Fraud conference offered Southwest Florida lessons on what to watch for,” by Kelly Farrell, 15 March 2013

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