State lawmakers aim to crack down on pandemic fraud

State lawmakers aim to crack down on pandemic fraud
Florida lawmakers will convene a 60-day session beginning March 2. (Source: News Service of Florida)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (News Service of Florida) - A bill scheduled for a hearing Monday would allow police to charge pandemic-related fraudsters with felonies.

If the bill (HB 9), sponsored by Rep. Ardian Zika, R-Land O’Lakes, gets approved by the Judiciary Committee, it would be ready to go to the full House after the annual legislative session starts March 2.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls told reporters last week that Zika’s bill, along with a measure that would provide COVID-19 liability protections for businesses (HB 7), are priorities for early passage in the House.

Zika’s bill targets such things as fake websites that offer access to vaccines in exchange for payments, or tout personal protective gear that doesn’t work. “Floridians need to be on the lookout for vaccine scams, but these criminals are using very slick, official-looking websites to run their operations,” Zika said in a prepared statement. “This legislation puts them on notice and helps protect Floridians from getting scammed.” The House is tentatively scheduled to hold floor sessions March 4-5 in which it could take up the bills.

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