Tougher punishments for stolen valor, veteran scams among new Florida laws

Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 8:17 PM CDT
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As Florida enters the month of October, 24 new laws will take effect. They range from increased penalties of shark finning, to new guidelines for specialty license plates. But one new law seeks to protect military veterans from scams.

“One out of three people scammed in Florida are veterans. They’re a target for these bad people,” said Florida State Senator Tom Wright, who introduced the “Florida Veterans Protection Act,” which sets harsher punishments for organizations that scam ten or more veterans.

“The attorney general’s office will get involved, will shut them down, and go after them for whatever damages they’ve caused,” said Wright.

Retired Navy captain John Kittler found himself victim of a scam after Hurricane Michael. These days he spends his time advocating for elderly veterans.

“We had an 87-year-old veteran who got swindled out of everything he had and was making a new start,” said Kittler.

He also supports another new law making it a third-degree felony to use military misrepresentations to land jobs or political offices.

“Stolen valor is what we call it, and then when they’re soliciting in uniform and they weren’t a member of the armed forces that’s doubly insulting,” Kittler said this happens more often than you might think. “For example in another community up north there was a guy parading around as a brigadier general, and he eventually under that state’s law was convicted, but he was passing himself off as a ‘one-star’ and he’d never been in the service.”

That law and the others go into effect October 1.

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