TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the conviction of Ronald J. Perrault, 42, on grand theft and organized scheme to defraud charges associated with a $1 million dollar financial fraud scheme involving an 82-year-old Bradenton woman. Perrault is scheduled for sentencing on December 4, 2013, and faces up to 35 years in prison.
“Our seniors have worked hard, saved their money and built a nest egg for their families, and I want to make sure their finances, as well as the savings of all Floridians, are protected from fraudsters who might want to prey on them,” said CFO Atwater. “I applaud our investigators for stopping this scam and bringing the person responsible to justice.”
An investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of insurance Fraud revealed that Perrault, while acting as an unlicensed financial advisor for the 82-year-old victim, defrauded her of $727,000 during the last five years and more than $1,000,000 throughout the course of their business relationship.
The investigation found that the victim initially invested $50,000 in Perrault’s fraudulent new business venture in October 2007, followed by another $100,000 in December 2007. During the following four years, Perrault convinced her to invest an additional $577,000. Out of fear of losing her life savings, she continued to submit to Perrault’s monetary demands until her account was depleted. From 2008 until his arrest in 2011, the victim was Perrault’s only client and an investigation into the money flow uncovered that all funds were transferred to Perrault for personal use. No financial business of any kind was conducted on her behalf.
In May, CFO Atwater launched Operation S.A.F.E., a new initiative to “Stop Adult Financial Exploitation” and the fraudsters who target Florida’s seniors. As part of this initiative, Be Scam Smart workshops are being held across the state in the month of October. To learn more and register for a free workshop, please visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Safe.
Anyone with information involving suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $342,000 to more than 50 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.