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Fraud And Cyber Crime In Hallandale Beach And Beyond

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

March 14, 2024

We hear all the time that South Florida is a hot bed for Fraud. In my capacity as Mayor of Hallandale Beach I hear it all the time. This Condominium Board is stealing. The president has to be taking kickbacks that is why the contracts to do work are so high. It is pretty easy to get caught up in the speculation.

In the super majority of times there is not an ounce of truth or any proof that would create a case against Boards or Board Members. If you do have proof of Financial Fraud even then it has to be pretty clear and or substantial for cities to pursue a case. Often when PD believes they have something to report, the SA weighs in on the merits and often does not prosecute.

It is not because they do not care, it is due to the fact these investigations are very time-consuming. This time equates to taxpayers dollars being spent. Even when they go to court often there is no jail time, Cases result in a slap on the hand and a fine. Think about this example. Some of the big banks who have laundered money for cartels get fined and not one banker ends up in jail.

We have referred a few cases in Hallandale Beach over the years to the State that were prosecuted. So not all hope is lost. The real question is do our departments have the personnel hours to spend when there are all types of Crime? Our Chief and the State Attorney need to weigh the costs versus the probable outcomes. These types of white-collar crimes take time and taxpayers dollars.

We know when a crime impacts you directly, crime just went off 100% for you. Fraud in condominiums is not to be taken lightly by any means. The issue becomes prioritization. Our state of Florida ranks 5th nationwide for fraud. Recently, the South Florida Business Journal reported that Lending Tree evaluated data from the Federal Trade Commission and found over $252 Million Dollars in Fraud of which they were aware. How much went under reported or not reported at all?

Fraud and Identity Theft have been around for years. They are Crimes of opportunity. Unexpecting people can and will become victims. The Crime Scene is the same but is now more insidious with the abundance of cellular phones and computers.

The worldwide web, while being an amazing resource for information and knowledge, is the new tool for bad actors that are committing Cybercrime. It is projected that a minimum of 422 million people nationally will be targeted. Over 33 billion accounts will be projected to be breached from Phishing Ransomware or targeted attacks on big organizations. This equates to 2,328 per day and 97 Cybercrime Victims every hour.

Please do not turn off your devices just yet. What you need to do is treat it just like your apartment or house. Get security. Just like when you are at home never let anyone in you do not know. Never click on the email that just does not look right. If you see something free just for you, you have won a prize, a bank or vendor is asking to confirm information and delete it. Never give out any of your information without knowing the person and confirming directly with your Vendor, Credit Card Company or Bank.

Florida has always been a top target for these crimes, but we are also one of the first states to pass Cybercrime Laws. In 1978 the State passed the Computer Crimes Act. Fast forward to today, we now have statewide requirements. After the Cyberattacks from China, everyone realizes how vulnerable our systems were. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are the world's bad actors.

In 2022 the Florida Legislators passed the State Cybersecurity Act. The Bill is part of Chapter 282 that covers Communication and Data Processing. It ensures our state including all county and local government bodies has rules and guidelines to protect vital data that is entrusted to us.

Each county with a population of 75,000 or more must have adopted the Cybersecurity Standards Required by this Subsection by January 1st, 2024. Each community with a population of less than 75,000 must adopt the Cybersecurity Standards Required by this Subsection by January 1st, 2025.

The Act also Requires that a Local Government shall provide notification of a Cybersecurity Incident or Ransomware Incident to the Cybersecurity Operations Center, Cybercrime Office of the Department of Law Enforcement, and Sheriff who have authority over the Local Government in accordance.

Elected Officials are now Required to take a 4-hour class on Cybersecurity. Like the National Incident Management Systems training for Hurricanes, we now treat Cybersecurity with the same preparedness mission. We just completed the class last week and it was very eye opening.

The major message we heard was our City has and is doing everything we need to do. We have a great team and collaborate directly with the Cyber Security Operations Center addressing threats.

The second message was to make sure you change your passwords regularly on your Devices and Apps. Add: Two Step Authentications on all your Devices and Apps. This sometimes can be annoying, but it can protect you just like locking your doors.

I will leave you with a bit of statistics to ease any fears that I may have created. Because of new security measures and continual improvement 80%-90% of hacks are stopped. With additional controls like: Two Step Authentication Firewalls and Encryption on your browser setting 10-20% attacks can be failed and closed. The goal is to be vigilant and never let your guard down!

As always feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City better! I can be reached at: Or: Or Facebook Mayor Joy Cooper. You can always call my Office number at: (954) 457-1318. Or Call/Text me at: (954) 632-5700. Working for you! Always have! Always will!

Editor's Note: The Florida State Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Senior Protection Team has an intra-agency group of experts working together to fight fraud. The team is comprised of leading members from the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, Consumer Protection Division, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and Office of Citizen Services. Seniors v. Crime and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will also actively assist the team with investigations and outreach efforts. For more information about how to tell if a senior may be a victim of financial fraud and how to guard against senior scams, call: 1-866-9-NO-SCAM or visit: for more information.

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