Florida Toughens Penalties for Scammers of Vets, Military

Holly Petraeus, backed by dozens of veterans and flanked on her right by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott, speaks at the Florida bill signing Monday at MacDill Air Force Base.

Holly Petraeus, backed by dozens of veterans and flanked on her right by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott, speaks at the Florida bill signing Monday at MacDill Air Force Base.

Whether they’re offering predatory car loans or trying to sell burial services at the National Cemeteries  – there are scammers who prey on active-duty military and veterans.

Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 1223 that gives service members an added layer of protection from fraud and scams.

“The bill creates a significant civil penalty that will be added on top of restitution for attempting to steal from our veterans and  their families.” Scott said during a bill signing ceremony at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base. “This new layer of protection will send a strong message to the nation that in Florida we’ll do whatever ti takes to protect our veterans and their families.

A special invitee to the bill signing was Holly Petraeus, wife of retired, four-star Gen. David Petraeus. Holly Petraeus works at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which enforces consumer laws, She focuses on protecting military members from predatory lenders.

Gov. Rick Scott after signing a law that adds substantial civil penalties for defrauding or scamming a veteran or active duty military.

Gov. Rick Scott after signing a law that adds substantial civil penalties for defrauding or scamming a veteran or active duty military.

“I think we all can agree it’s pretty disgraceful when people will use someone’s military or veterans status to take advantage of them,” Petraeus said. “And if you think it doesn’t happen all you have to do is go online and Google military loans and 51 million things will come up.”

Dozens of veterans stood as a backdrop to the governor during the ceremony while dozens of active-duty military were in the audience.

The governor said the bill takes effect immediately, July 1, 2013.

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