New Florida bill aims to enforce criminal charges for people caught scamming veterans

New protections for veterans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers say the new bill they're introducing would help veterans who might fall prey to a scam or identity theft.

This new bill would help veterans, including those at Five Star Veterans Center.

If the bill passes, there will be stricter criminal penalties for people who try to scam veterans out of their money.

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Dave Danford is an Air Force veteran who lives at Five Star Veteran Center in Arlington.

On Monday, he found out that Florida lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would protect older veterans such as him against identity theft and scams.

"In fact, I've seen it happen to a couple of my buddies so I kind of keep a close eye on things but you never know," Danford said.

The bill is called the Florida Veterans Protection Act and it would make defrauding a veteran a white-collar crime.

An individual caught could face jail time.

Jimmy Patronis, the state's Chief Financial Officer told Action News Jax that Florida ranks third in the United States for the number of veterans within the state and said that, if this bill is passed, he's hoping it can protect them.

"Our veterans are twice as likely to be targeted in an identity theft scam than any of the residents of this state," Patronis said.

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Patronis also said that, when it comes to fraud reports, Florida is No. 1 in the country, and ranks fourth in identity theft reports.

"I can see that a lonely veteran can fall prey to something very easily," Danford said.

The bill will be considered and voted on in the next legislative session in January.