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Fraud Offenses

Fraud offenses were known at common law as larceny by trick. If arrested for Fraud in Florida, you may face misdemeanor charges or felony charges. The most common arrests for fraud offenses in the Jacksonville area include:

  • obtaining property by false personation
  • making false statements to obtain property or credit
  • misleading and false advertisements
  • making false reports by officers of banks or other persons of trust
  • insurance fraud
  • sale of used goods as new
  • false report of commission of a crime
  • criminal use of personal identification of information, uttering or forgery.

At Arnold Law Firm, we have lengthy experience in the prosecution and defense of fraud cases. Our criminal defense lawyers are led by Shawn Arnold, a Florida Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer. We know the law, but we don't just practice the science of lawyering, we believe in the art of being a lawyer. We value the lawyer-client relationship. We understand that we are entrusted with the sacred duty to protect our client's interests at all times. We don't just tell, but make the prosecutor, judge or jury feel and experience the client's story. Contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys for a 30 minute free consultation today at .

FLORIDA'S FRAUD LAWS

817.02 Obtaining property by false personation.

817.021 False information to obtain a seaport security identification card.

817.025 Home or private business invasion by false personation; penalties.

817.03 Making false statement to obtain property or credit.

817.031 Making false statements; venue of prosecution.

817.034 Florida Communications Fraud Act.

817.037 Fraudulent refunds.

817.05 False statements to merchants as to financial condition.

817.06 Misleading advertisements prohibited; penalty.

817.061 Misleading solicitation of payments prohibited.

817.08 Receiving money or property upon false promises of services as seaman or sponge fisher.

817.11 Obtaining property by fraudulent promise to furnish inside information.

817.12 Penalty for violation of s. 817.11.

817.13 Paraphernalia as evidence of violation of s. 817.11.

817.14 Procuring assignments of produce upon false representations.

817.15 Making false entries, etc., on books of corporation.

817.155 Matters within jurisdiction of Department of State; false, fictitious, or fraudulent acts, statements, and representations prohibited; penalty; statute of limitations.

817.16 False reports, etc., by officers of banks, trust companies, etc., with intent to defraud.

817.17 Wrongful use of city name.

817.18 Wrongful stamping, marking, etc.; penalty.

817.19 Fraudulent issue of certificate of stock of corporation.

817.20 Issuing stock or obligation of corporation beyond authorized amount.

817.21 Books to be evidence in such cases.

817.22 Making false invoice to defraud insurer.

817.23 Making false affidavit to defraud insurer.

817.233 Burning to defraud the insurer.

817.234 False and fraudulent insurance claims.

817.2341 False or misleading statements or supporting documents; penalty.

817.235 Personal property; removing or altering identification marks.

817.236 False and fraudulent motor vehicle insurance application.

817.2361 False or fraudulent proof of motor vehicle insurance.

817.24 Unlawful to add or alter or deface existing brand.

817.25 Fraudulently marking or branding.

817.26 Fraudulently changing marks on animal.

817.28 Fraudulent obtaining of property by gaming.

817.29 Cheating.

817.30 Punishment for unlawful use of badge of certain orders and organizations.

817.31 Unlawful use of insignia of American Legion; penalty.

817.311 Unlawful use of badges, etc.

817.32 Fraudulent operation of coin-operated devices.

817.33 Manufacture, etc., of slugs to be used in coin-operated devices prohibited.

817.34 False entries and statements by investment companies offering stock or security for sale.

817.35 Sale of cemetery lots or mausoleum space; promises.

817.355 Fraudulent creation or possession of admission ticket.

817.357 Purchase of tickets.

817.36 Resale of tickets.

817.361 Resale of multiday or multievent ticket.

817.37 Touting; defining; providing punishment; ejection from racetracks.

817.38 Simulated process.

817.39 Simulated forms of court or legal process, or official seal or stationery; publication, sale or circulation unlawful; penalty.

817.40 False, misleading and deceptive advertising and sales; definitions.

817.41 Misleading advertising prohibited.

817.411 False information; advertising.

817.4115 False, deceptive, or misleading advertisement of live musical performances.

817.412 Sale of used goods as new; penalty.

817.413 Sale of used motor vehicle goods as new; penalty.

817.415 Florida Free Gift Advertising Law.

817.416 Franchises and distributorships; misrepresentations.

FALSE PRETENSES AND FRAUDS, GENERALLY

817.02 Obtaining property by false personation.--Whoever falsely personates or represents another, and in such assumed character receives any property intended to be delivered to the party so personated, with intent to convert the same to his or her own use, shall be punished as if he or she had been convicted of larceny.

History.--s. 49, sub-ch. 4, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2466; GS 3321; RGS 5156; CGL 7259; s. 1244, ch. 97-102.

817.025 Home or private business invasion by false personation; penalties.--A person who obtains access to a home or private business by false personation or representation, with the intent to commit a felony, commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. If such act results in serious injury or death, it is a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 1, ch. 91-133.

817.03 Making false statement to obtain property or credit.--Any person who shall make or cause to be made any false statement, in writing, relating to his or her financial condition, assets or liabilities, or relating to the financial condition, assets or liabilities of any firm or corporation in which such person has a financial interest, or for whom he or she is acting, with a fraudulent intent of obtaining credit, goods, money or other property, and shall by such false statement obtain credit, goods, money or other property, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 5134, 1903; RS 3322; s. 1, ch. 6869, 1915; RGS 5160; CGL 7263; s. 843, ch. 71-136; s. 1245, ch. 97-102.

817.031 Making false statements; venue of prosecution.--Prosecutions under s. 817.03 may be begun in the county where the statement was written, or purports to have been written.

History.--s. 2, ch. 5134, 1903; GS 3323; RGS 5161; CGL 7264.

Note.--Former s. 817.04.

817.034 Florida Communications Fraud Act.--

(1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.--

(a) The Legislature recognizes that schemes to defraud have proliferated in the United States in recent years and that many operators of schemes to defraud use communications technology to solicit victims and thereby conceal their identities and overcome a victim's normal resistance to sales pressure by delivering a personalized sales message.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to prevent the use of communications technology in furtherance of schemes to defraud by consolidating former statutes concerning schemes to defraud and organized fraud to permit prosecution of these crimes utilizing the legal precedent available under federal mail and wire fraud statutes.

(2) SHORT TITLE.--This section may be cited as the "Florida Communications Fraud Act."

(3) DEFINITIONS.--As used in this section, the term:

(a) "Communicate" means to transmit or transfer or to cause another to transmit or transfer signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligences of any nature in whole or in part by mail, or by wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo optical system.

(b) "Obtain" means temporarily or permanently to deprive any person of the right to property or a benefit therefrom, or to appropriate the property to one's own use or to the use of any other person not entitled thereto.

(c) "Property" means anything of value, and includes:

1. Real property, including things growing on, affixed to, or found in land;

2. Tangible or intangible personal property, including rights, privileges, interests, and claims; and

3. Services.

(d) "Scheme to defraud" means a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.

(e) "Value" means value determined according to any of the following:

1.a. The market value of the property at the time and place of the offense, or, if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense.

b. The value of a written instrument that does not have a readily ascertainable market value, in the case of an instrument such as a check, draft, or promissory note, is the amount due or collectible or is, in the case of any other instrument which creates, releases, discharges, or otherwise affects any valuable legal right, privilege, or obligation, the greatest amount of economic loss that the owner of the instrument might reasonably suffer by virtue of the loss of the instrument.

c. The value of a trade secret that does not have a readily ascertainable market value is any reasonable value representing the damage to the owner, suffered by reason of losing an advantage over those who do not know of or use the trade secret.

2. If the value of property cannot be ascertained, the trier of fact may find the value to be not less than a certain amount; if no such minimum value can be ascertained, the value is an amount less than $300.

3. Amounts of value of separate properties obtained in one scheme to defraud, whether from the same person or from several persons, shall be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense under paragraph (4)(a).

(4) OFFENSES.--

(a) Any person who engages in a scheme to defraud and obtains property thereby is guilty of organized fraud, punishable as follows:

1. If the amount of property obtained has an aggregate value of $50,000 or more, the violator is guilty of a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

2. If the amount of property obtained has an aggregate value of $20,000 or more, but less than $50,000, the violator is guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

3. If the amount of property obtained has an aggregate value of less than $20,000, the violator is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(b) Any person who engages in a scheme to defraud and, in furtherance of that scheme, communicates with any person with intent to obtain property from that person is guilty, for each such act of communication, of communications fraud, punishable as follows:

1. If the value of property obtained or endeavored to be obtained by the communication is valued at $300 or more, the violator is guilty of a third degree felony, punishable as set forth in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

2. If the value of the property obtained or endeavored to be obtained by the communication is valued at less than $300, the violator is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as set forth in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(c) Notwithstanding any contrary provisions of law, separate judgments and sentences for organized fraud under paragraph (a) and for each offense of communications fraud under paragraph (b) may be imposed when all such offenses involve the same scheme to defraud.

History.--s. 1, ch. 87-382.

817.037 Fraudulent refunds.--

(1) Any person who engages in a systematic, ongoing course of conduct to obtain a refund for merchandise from a business establishment by knowingly giving a false or fictitious name or address as his or her own or the name or address of any other person without that person's knowledge and approval is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) In order for a person to be convicted under this section, a conspicuous notice must have been posted in the business establishment in the area where refunds are made, advising patrons of the provisions of this section and the penalties provided.

History.--s. 3, ch. 86-161; s. 193, ch. 91-224; s. 1246, ch. 97-102.

817.05 False statements to merchants as to financial condition.--Any merchant in the state, before extending credit to any person applying for the same, may require such applicant to furnish a statement in writing showing the property owned and the salary being earned by said applicant, and if said statement, or any part thereof, is false, provided the same be made willfully, and signed by applicant in presence of two witnesses, and any person obtains credit from any merchant by reason of the merchant relying on and being deceived by said false statement, or any part thereof, then said person so obtaining credit or goods shall be deemed guilty of obtaining money or goods under false pretenses and shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 19487, 1939; CGL 1940 Supp. 7264(1); s. 844, ch. 71-136.

817.06 Misleading advertisements prohibited; penalty.--

(1) No person, persons, association, copartnership, or institution shall, with intent to offer or sell or in anywise dispose of merchandise, securities, certificates, diplomas, documents, or other credentials purporting to reflect proficiency in any trade, skill, profession, credits for academic achievement, service or anything offered by such person, persons, association, copartnership, corporation, or institution directly or indirectly, to the public, for sale or distribution or issuance, or with intent to increase the consumption or use thereof, or with intent to induce the public in any manner to enter into any obligation relating thereto, or to acquire title thereto, or any interest therein, or ownership thereof, knowingly or intentionally make, publish, disseminate, circulate or place before the public, or cause, directly or indirectly, to be made, published, disseminated or circulated or placed before the public in this state in a newspaper or other publication or in the form of a book, notice, handbill, poster, bill, circular, pamphlet or letter or in any other way, an advertisement of any sort regarding such certificate, diploma, document, credential, academic credits, merchandise, security, service or anything so offered to the public, which advertisement contains any assertion, representation or statement which is untrue, deceptive, or misleading.

(2) Any person, persons, association, copartnership, corporation, or institution found guilty of a violation of subsection (1) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 11827, 1927; CGL 7311, 7312; ss. 1, 2, ch. 57-410; s. 846, ch. 71-136.

Note.--Former s. 817.07.

817.061 Misleading solicitation of payments prohibited.--

(1) It is unlawful for any person, company, corporation, agency, association, partnership, institution, or charitable entity to solicit payment of money by another by means of a statement or invoice, or any writing that would reasonably be interpreted as a statement or invoice, for goods not yet ordered or for services not yet performed and not yet ordered, unless there appears on the face of the statement or invoice or writing in 30-point boldfaced type the following warning:

"This is a solicitation for the order of goods or services, and you are under no obligation to make payment unless you accept the offer contained herein."

(2) Any person damaged by noncompliance with this section, in addition to other remedies, is entitled to damages in the amount equal to 3 times the sum solicited.

(3) Any person, company, corporation, agency, association, partnership, institution, or charitable entity that violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.083.

History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 69-246; s. 845, ch. 71-136.

817.08 Receiving money or property upon false promises of services as seaman or sponge fisher.--Whoever enters into a written agreement with any master or owner of a vessel to perform certain services upon said vessel as seaman or sponge fisher for a contemplated voyage, and receives or accepts any money or goods, wares or merchandise, as advances or bounty for the performance of said services, and shall willfully and without just cause refuse to perform said services, or to go on said vessel at the time of the sailing of the same, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 5161, 1903; GS 3324; RGS 5162; CGL 7265; s. 847, ch. 71-136; s. 1247, ch. 97-102.

817.11 Obtaining property by fraudulent promise to furnish inside information.--No person shall defraud or attempt to defraud any individual out of any thing of value by assuming to have or be able to obtain any secret, advance or inside information regarding any person, transaction, act or thing, whether such person, transaction, act or thing exists or not.

History.--s. 1, ch. 8466, 1921; CGL 7308.

817.12 Penalty for violation of s. 817.11.--Any person guilty of violating the provisions of s. 817.11 shall be deemed guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 2, ch. 8466, 1921; CGL 7309; s. 848, ch. 71-136.

817.13 Paraphernalia as evidence of violation of s. 817.11.--All paraphernalia of whatsoever kind in possession of any person and used in defrauding or attempting to defraud as specified in s. 817.11 shall be held and accepted by any court of competent jurisdiction in this state as prima facie evidence of guilt.

History.--s. 3, ch. 8466, 1921; CGL 7310.

817.14 Procuring assignments of produce upon false representations.--Any person acting for himself or herself or another, who shall procure any consignment of produce grown in this state, to himself or herself or such other, for sale on commission or for other compensation by any knowingly false representation as to the prevailing market price at such time for such produce at the point to which it is consigned, or as to the price which such person for whom he or she is acting is at said time paying to other consignors for like produce at said place, or as to the condition of the market for such produce at such time and place, and any such person acting for another who shall procure any consignment for sale as aforesaid by false representation of authority to him or her by such other to make a guaranteed price to the consignor, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 5141, 1903; GS 3325; RGS 5163; CGL 7266; s. 849, ch. 71-136; s. 1248, ch. 97-102.

817.15 Making false entries, etc., on books of corporation.--Any officer, agent, clerk or servant of a corporation who makes a false entry in the books thereof, with intent to defraud, and any person whose duty it is to make in such books a record or entry of the transfer of stock, or of the issuing and canceling of certificates thereof, or of the amount of stock issued by such corporation, who omits to make a true record or entry thereof, with intent to defraud, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 47, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2467; GS 3326; RGS 5164; CGL 7267; s. 850, ch. 71-136.

817.155 Matters within jurisdiction of Department of State; false, fictitious, or fraudulent acts, statements, and representations prohibited; penalty; statute of limitations.--A person may not, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the Department of State, knowingly and willfully falsify or conceal a material fact, make any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation, or make or use any false document, knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry. A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. The statute of limitations for prosecution of an act committed in violation of this section is 5 years from the date the act was committed.

History.--s. 52, ch. 87-99; s. 194, ch. 91-224.

817.16 False reports, etc., by officers of banks, trust companies, etc., with intent to defraud.--Any officer, director, agent or clerk of any bank, trust company, building and loan association, small loan licensee, credit union, or other corporation under the supervision of the Office of Financial Regulation of the Financial Services Commission or formerly the Department of Banking and Finance, who willfully and knowingly subscribes or exhibits any false paper with intent to deceive any person authorized to examine as to the records of such bank, trust company, building and loan association, small loan licensee, credit union, or other corporation under the supervision of the Office of Financial Regulation or formerly the Department of Banking and Finance, or willfully and knowingly subscribes to or makes any false reports to the Office of Financial Regulation or subscribed to or made any such false report to the Department of Banking and Finance or causes to be published any false report, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 15876, 1933; CGL 1936 Supp. 7315(1); ss. 12, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 851, ch. 71-136; s. 1908, ch. 2003-261.

817.17 Wrongful use of city name.--No person or persons engaged in manufacturing in this state, shall cause to be printed, stamped, marked, engraved or branded, upon any of the articles manufactured by them, or on any of the boxes, packages, or bands containing such manufactured articles, the name of any city in the state, other than that in which said articles are manufactured; provided, that nothing in this section shall prohibit any person from offering for sale any goods having marked thereon the name of any city in Florida other than that in which said goods were manufactured, if there be no manufactory of similar goods in the city the name of which is used.

History.--s. 1, ch. 4145, 1893; GS 3327; RGS 5167; CGL 7270.

817.18 Wrongful stamping, marking, etc.; penalty.--

(1) No person shall knowingly sell or offer for sale, within the state, any manufactured articles which shall have printed, stamped, marked, engraved, or branded upon them, or upon the boxes, packages, or bands containing said manufactured articles, the name of any city in the state, other than that in which such articles were manufactured; provided, that nothing in this section shall prohibit any person from offering for sale any goods, having marked thereon the name of any city in Florida, other than that in which said goods are manufactured, if there be no manufactory of similar goods in the city the name of which is used.

(2) Any person violating the provisions of this or the preceding section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.083.

History.--s. 2, ch. 4145, 1893; GS 3328; RGS 5168; CGL 7271; s. 852, ch. 71-136.

817.19 Fraudulent issue of certificate of stock of corporation.--Any officer, agent, clerk or servant of a corporation, or any other person, who fraudulently issues or transfers a certificate of stock of a corporation to any person not entitled thereto, or fraudulently signs such certificate, in blank or otherwise, with the intent that it shall be so issued or transferred by himself or herself or any other person, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 46, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2468; GS 3329; RGS 5169; CGL 7272; s. 853, ch. 71-136; s. 1249, ch. 97-102.

817.20 Issuing stock or obligation of corporation beyond authorized amount.--Any officer, agent, clerk or servant of a corporation, or any other person, who issues, or signs with intent to issue, any certificate of stock in a corporation, or who issues, signs or endorses with intent to issue any bond, note, bill or other obligation or security in the name of such corporation, beyond the amount authorized by law, or limited by the legal votes of such corporation or its proper officers; or negotiates, transfers or disposes of such certificate, with intent to defraud, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 45, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2469; GS 3330; RGS 5170; CGL 7273; s. 854, ch. 71-136.

817.21 Books to be evidence in such cases.--On the trial of any person under ss. 817.19 and 817.20 the books of any corporation to which such person has access or the right of access shall be admissible in evidence.

History.--s. 48, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2470; GS 3331; RGS 5171; CGL 7274.

817.22 Making false invoice to defraud insurer.--If the owner of a ship or vessel or of property laden or pretended to be laden on board the same, or if any other person concerned in the lading or fitting out of a ship or vessel, makes out or exhibits, or causes to be made out or exhibited, a false or fraudulent invoice, bill of lading, bill or parcels or other false estimates of any goods or property laden or pretended to be laden, on board such ship or vessel, with intent to injure and defraud an insurer of such ship, vessel or property, or of any part thereof, he or she shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 72, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2471; GS 3332; RGS 5172; CGL 7275; s. 7, ch. 22858, 1945; s. 855, ch. 71-136; s. 1250, ch. 97-102.

817.23 Making false affidavit to defraud insurer.--If a master, other officer, or mariner of a ship or vessel, makes or causes to be made, or swears to any false affidavit or protest, or if an owner or other person concerned in such ship or vessel or in the goods and property laden on board the same, procures any such false affidavits or protest to be made, or exhibits the same, with intent to injure, deceive or defraud an insurer of such ship or vessel, or of any goods or property laden on board the same, he or she shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 73, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2472; GS 3333; RGS 5173; CGL 7276; s. 856, ch. 71-136; s. 1251, ch. 97-102.

817.233 Burning to defraud the insurer.--Any person who willfully and with intent to injure or defraud the insurer sets fire to or burns or attempts so to do or who causes to be burned or who aids, counsels or procures the burning of any building, structure or personal property, of whatsoever class or character, whether the property of himself or herself or of another, which shall at the time be insured by any person against loss or damage by fire, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 1, ch. 15602, 1931; CGL 1936 Supp. 7208(12); s. 791, ch. 71-136; s. 65, ch. 74-383; s. 1252, ch. 97-102.

Note.--Former s. 806.06.

817.234 False and fraudulent insurance claims.--

(1)(a) A person commits insurance fraud punishable as provided in subsection (11) if that person, with the intent to injure, defraud, or deceive any insurer:

1. Presents or causes to be presented any written or oral statement as part of, or in support of, a claim for payment or other benefit pursuant to an insurance policy or a health maintenance organization subscriber or provider contract, knowing that such statement contains any false, incomplete, or misleading information concerning any fact or thing material to such claim;

2. Prepares or makes any written or oral statement that is intended to be presented to any insurer in connection with, or in support of, any claim for payment or other benefit pursuant to an insurance policy or a health maintenance organization subscriber or provider contract, knowing that such statement contains any false, incomplete, or misleading information concerning any fact or thing material to such claim; or

3.a. Knowingly presents, causes to be presented, or prepares or makes with knowledge or belief that it will be presented to any insurer, purported insurer, servicing corporation, insurance broker, or insurance agent, or any employee or agent thereof, any false, incomplete, or misleading information or written or oral statement as part of, or in support of, an application for the issuance of, or the rating of, any insurance policy, or a health maintenance organization subscriber or provider contract; or

b. Who knowingly conceals information concerning any fact material to such application.

(b) All claims and application forms shall contain a statement that is approved by the Office of Insurance Regulation of the Financial Services Commission which clearly states in substance the following: "Any person who knowingly and with intent to injure, defraud, or deceive any insurer files a statement of claim or an application containing any false, incomplete, or misleading information is guilty of a felony of the third degree." This paragraph shall not apply to reinsurance contracts, reinsurance agreements, or reinsurance claims transactions.

(2)(a) Any physician licensed under chapter 458, osteopathic physician licensed under chapter 459, chiropractic physician licensed under chapter 460, or other practitioner licensed under the laws of this state who knowingly and willfully assists, conspires with, or urges any insured party to fraudulently violate any of the provisions of this section or part XI of chapter 627, or any person who, due to such assistance, conspiracy, or urging by said physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or practitioner, knowingly and willfully benefits from the proceeds derived from the use of such fraud, commits insurance fraud, punishable as provided in subsection (11). In the event that a physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or practitioner is adjudicated guilty of a violation of this section, the Board of Medicine as set forth in chapter 458, the Board of Osteopathic Medicine as set forth in chapter 459, the Board of Chiropractic Medicine as set forth in chapter 460, or other appropriate licensing authority shall hold an administrative hearing to consider the imposition of administrative sanctions as provided by law against said physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or practitioner.

(b) In addition to any other provision of law, systematic upcoding by a provider, as defined in s. 641.19(14), with the intent to obtain reimbursement otherwise not due from an insurer is punishable as provided in s. 641.52(5).

(3) Any attorney who knowingly and willfully assists, conspires with, or urges any claimant to fraudulently violate any of the provisions of this section or part XI of chapter 627, or any person who, due to such assistance, conspiracy, or urging on such attorney's part, knowingly and willfully benefits from the proceeds derived from the use of such fraud, commits insurance fraud, punishable as provided in subsection (11).

(4) Any person or governmental unit licensed under chapter 395 to maintain or operate a hospital, and any administrator or employee of any such hospital, who knowingly and willfully allows the use of the facilities of said hospital by an insured party in a scheme or conspiracy to fraudulently violate any of the provisions of this section or part XI of chapter 627 commits insurance fraud, punishable as provided in subsection (11). Any adjudication of guilt for a violation of this subsection, or the use of business practices demonstrating a pattern indicating that the spirit of the law set forth in this section or part XI of chapter 627 is not being followed, shall be grounds for suspension or revocation of the license to operate the hospital or the imposition of an administrative penalty of up to $5,000 by the licensing agency, as set forth in chapter 395.

(5) Any insurer damaged as a result of a violation of any provision of this section when there has been a criminal adjudication of guilt shall have a cause of action to recover compensatory damages, plus all reasonable investigation and litigation expenses, including attorneys' fees, at the trial and appellate courts.

(6) For the purposes of this section, "statement" includes, but is not limited to, any notice, statement, proof of loss, bill of lading, invoice, account, estimate of property damages, bill for services, diagnosis, prescription, hospital or doctor records, X ray, test result, or other evidence of loss, injury, or expense.

(7)(a) It shall constitute a material omission and insurance fraud for any physician or other provider, other than a hospital, to engage in a general business practice of billing amounts as its usual and customary charge, if such provider has agreed with the patient or intends to waive deductibles or copayments, or does not for any other reason intend to collect the total amount of such charge. With respect to a determination as to whether a physician or other provider has engaged in such general business practice, consideration shall be given to evidence of whether the physician or other provider made a good faith attempt to collect such deductible or copayment. This paragraph does not apply to physicians or other providers who waive deductibles or copayments or reduce their bills as part of a bodily injury settlement or verdict.

(b) The provisions of this section shall also apply as to any insurer or adjusting firm or its agents or representatives who, with intent, injure, defraud, or deceive any claimant with regard to any claim. The claimant shall have the right to recover the damages provided in this section.

(c) An insurer, or any person acting at the direction of or on behalf of an insurer, may not change an opinion in a mental or physical report prepared under s. 627.736(7) or direct the physician preparing the report to change such opinion; however, this provision does not preclude the insurer from calling to the attention of the physician errors of fact in the report based upon information in the claim file. Any person who violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(8)(a) It is unlawful for any person intending to defraud any other person to solicit or cause to be solicited any business from a person involved in a motor vehicle accident for the purpose of making, adjusting, or settling motor vehicle tort claims or claims for personal injury protection benefits required by s. 627.736. Any person who violates the provisions of this paragraph commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. A person who is convicted of a violation of this subsection shall be sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of 2 years.

(b) A person may not solicit or cause to be solicited any business from a person involved in a motor vehicle accident by any means of communication other than advertising directed to the public for the purpose of making motor vehicle tort claims or claims for personal injury protection benefits required by s. 627.736, within 60 days after the occurrence of the motor vehicle accident. Any person who violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(c) A lawyer, health care practitioner as defined in s. 456.001, or owner or medical director of a clinic required to be licensed pursuant to s. 400.9905 may not, at any time after 60 days have elapsed from the occurrence of a motor vehicle accident, solicit or cause to be solicited any business from a person involved in a motor vehicle accident by means of in person or telephone contact at the person's residence, for the purpose of making motor vehicle tort claims or claims for personal injury protection benefits required by s. 627.736. Any person who violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(d) Charges for any services rendered by any person who violates this subsection in regard to the person for whom such services were rendered are noncompensable and unenforceable as a matter of law.

(9) A person may not organize, plan, or knowingly participate in an intentional motor vehicle crash for the purpose of making motor vehicle tort claims or claims for personal injury protection benefits as required by s. 627.736. Any person who violates this subsection commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. A person who is convicted of a violation of this subsection shall be sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of 2 years.

(10) As used in this section, the term "insurer" means any insurer, health maintenance organization, self-insurer, self-insurance fund, or other similar entity or person regulated under chapter 440 or chapter 641 or by the Office of Insurance Regulation under the Florida Insurance Code.

(11) If the value of any property involved in a violation of this section:

(a) Is less than $20,000, the offender commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(b) Is $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000, the offender commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(c) Is $100,000 or more, the offender commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(12) As used in this section:

(a) "Property" means property as defined in s. 812.012.

(b) "Value" means value as defined in s. 812.012.

History.--s. 7, ch. 76-266; s. 36, ch. 77-468; s. 3, ch. 78-258; s. 1, ch. 79-81; s. 487, ch. 81-259; s. 9, ch. 83-28; s. 24, ch. 88-370; s. 41, ch. 91-110; s. 123, ch. 92-149; s. 8, ch. 95-340; s. 1253, ch. 97-102; s. 65, ch. 97-264; s. 298, ch. 98-166; s. 6, ch. 99-204; s. 11, ch. 2000-252; s. 7, ch. 2001-271; s. 1909, ch. 2003-261; s. 10, ch. 2003-411.

Note.--Former s. 627.7375.

817.2341 False or misleading statements or supporting documents; penalty.--

(1) Any person who willfully files with the department or office, or who willfully signs for filing with the department or office, a materially false or materially misleading financial statement or document in support of such statement required by law or rule, with intent to deceive and with knowledge that the statement or document is materially false or materially misleading, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(2)(a) Any person who makes a false entry of a material fact in any book, report, or statement relating to a transaction of an insurer or entity organized pursuant to chapter 624 or chapter 641, intending to deceive any person about the financial condition or solvency of the insurer or entity, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(b) If the false entry of a material fact is made with the intent to deceive any person as to the impairment of capital, as defined in s. 631.011(12), of the insurer or entity or is the significant cause of the insurer or entity being placed in conservation, rehabilitation, or liquidation by a court, the person commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(3)(a) Any person who knowingly makes a material false statement or report to the department or office or any agent of the department or office, or knowingly and materially overvalues any property in any document or report prepared to be presented to the department or office or any agent of the department or office, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(b) If the material false statement or report or the material overvaluation is made with the intent to deceive any person as to the impairment of capital, as defined in s. 631.011(12), of an insurer or entity organized pursuant to chapter 624 or chapter 641, or is the significant cause of the insurer or entity being placed in receivership by a court, the person commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(4) As used in this section, the term:

(a) "Department" means the Department of Financial Services.

(b) "Office" means the Office of Insurance Regulation of the Financial Services Commission.

History.--s. 18, ch. 2002-25; s. 1910, ch. 2003-261.

817.235 Personal property; removing or altering identification marks.--

(1) Except as otherwise provided by law, any person who, with intent to prevent identification by the true owner, removes, erases, defaces, or otherwise alters any serial number or other mark of identification placed on any item of personal property by the manufacturer or owner thereof is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) Any person who possesses any item of personal property with the knowledge that the serial number or other mark of identification placed thereon by the manufacturer or owner thereof has been removed, erased, defaced, or otherwise altered with intent to prevent identification by the true owner is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 74-6.

817.236 False and fraudulent motor vehicle insurance application.--Any person who, with intent to injure, defraud, or deceive any motor vehicle insurer, including any statutorily created underwriting association or pool of motor vehicle insurers, presents or causes to be presented any written application, or written statement in support thereof, for motor vehicle insurance knowing that the application or statement contains any false, incomplete, or misleading information concerning any fact or matter material to the application commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 49, ch. 90-119; s. 11, ch. 2003-411.

817.2361 False or fraudulent motor vehicle insurance card.--Any person who, with intent to deceive any other person, creates, markets, or presents a false or fraudulent motor vehicle insurance card commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 12, ch. 2003-411.

817.24 Unlawful to add or alter or deface existing brand.--It is unlawful for anyone to add to or alter or deface any existing brand on any animal not his or her own or without the consent of the owner, with a fraudulent intent to claim the same, any bar, letter, figure, or character of any kind. Any violation of this section shall be a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--ss. 1, 3, ch. 4734, 1899; GS 3334; RGS 5174; CGL 7277; s. 857, ch. 71-136; s. 1254, ch. 97-102.

817.25 Fraudulently marking or branding.--Whoever shall fraudulently mark or brand any unmarked or unbranded animal with the intent to claim the same or to prevent identification by the true owner or owners thereof, shall be punished as provided in s. 817.24.

History.--s. 4, ch. 4734, 1899; GS 3335; RGS 5175; CGL 7278.

817.26 Fraudulently changing marks on animal.--If any person shall fraudulently alter or change the marks of any animal, not his or her own, with intent to claim the same or to prevent identification by the true owner thereof, the person so offending shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 1, ch. 5663, 1907; RGS 5176; CGL 7279; s. 858, ch. 71-136; s. 1255, ch. 97-102.

817.28 Fraudulent obtaining of property by gaming.--Whoever, by the game of three-card monte, so-called, or any other game, device, sleight-of-hand, pretensions to fortunetelling, or other means whatever by the use of cards or other implement or implements, fraudulently obtains from another person property of any description, shall be punished as if he or she had been convicted of larceny.

History.--s. 53, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2473; GS 3343; RGS 5186; CGL 7289; s. 1256, ch. 97-102.

817.29 Cheating.--Whoever is convicted of any gross fraud or cheat at common law shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 54, ch. 1637, 1868; RS 2475; GS 3344; RGS 5187; CGL 7290; s. 860, ch. 71-136.

817.30 Punishment for unlawful use of badge of certain orders and organizations.--Any person who willfully wears the badge or button of the Grand Army of the Republic, the insignia, badge or rosette of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, or of the Military Order of Foreign Wars of the United States, or of the Patrons of Husbandry, or the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America, or of the Woodmen of the World, or of any society, order or organization of 5 years' standing in the state, or uses the same to obtain aid or assistance within this state, or willfully uses the name of such society, order or organization, the titles of its officers, or its insignia, ritual or ceremonies, unless entitled to use or wear the same under the constitution and bylaws, rules and regulations of such order or of such society, order or organization, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 6502, 1913; RGS 5197; CGL 7300; s. 862, ch. 71-136.

817.31 Unlawful use of insignia of American Legion; penalty.--Any person who willfully wears the badge, button or other insignia of the American Legion shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083; provided, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to any member of the American Legion.

History.--s. 1, ch. 8464, 1921; CGL 7301; s. 861, ch. 71-136.

817.311 Unlawful use of badges, etc.--

(1) From and after May 9, 1949, any person who shall wear or display a badge, button, insignia or other emblem, or shall use the name of or claim to be a member of any benevolent, fraternal, social, humane, or charitable organization, which organization is entitled to the exclusive use of such name and such badge, button, insignia or emblem either in the identical form or in such near resemblance thereto as to be a colorable imitation thereof, unless such person is entitled so to do under the laws, rules and regulations of such organization, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) This section shall be cumulative to any and all laws now in force in the state.

History.--s. 1, ch. 25025, 1949; s. 863, ch. 71-136.

817.32 Fraudulent operation of coin-operated devices.--Any person who shall operate or cause to be operated, or who shall attempt to operate, or attempt to cause to be operated, any automatic vending machine, slot machine, coinbox telephone, or other receptacle designed to receive lawful coin of the United States in connection with the sale, use or enjoyment of property or service, by means of a slug or any false, counterfeited, mutilated, sweated, or foreign coin, or by any means, method, trick, or device whatsoever not lawfully authorized by the owner, lessee, or licensee of such machine, coinbox telephone or receptacle, or who shall take, obtain or receive from or in connection with any automatic vending machine, slot machine, coinbox telephone or other receptacle designed to receive lawful coin of the United States in connection with the sale, use, or enjoyment of property or service, any goods, wares, merchandise, gas, electric current, article of value, or the use or enjoyment of any telephone or telegraph facilities or service, or of any musical instrument, phonograph, or other property, without depositing in and surrendering to such machine, coinbox telephone or receptacle lawful coin of the United States to the amount required therefor by the owner, lessee, or licensee of such machine, coinbox telephone or receptacle, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 12267, 1927; CGL 7313; s. 864, ch. 71-136.

817.33 Manufacture, etc., of slugs to be used in coin-operated devices prohibited.--Any person who, with intent to cheat or defraud the owner, lessee, licensee, or other person entitled to the contents of any automatic vending machine, slot machine, coinbox telephone or other receptacle, depository, or contrivance designed to receive lawful coin of the United States in connection with the sale, use, or enjoyment of property or service, or who, knowing that the same is intended for unlawful use, shall manufacture for sale, or sell or give away any slug, device or substance whatsoever intended or calculated to be placed or deposited in any such automatic vending machine, slot machine, coinbox telephone or other such receptacle, depository or contrivance, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 2, ch. 12267, 1927; CGL 7314; s. 865, ch. 71-136.

817.34 False entries and statements by investment companies offering stock or security for sale.--Any person who shall knowingly subscribe to or make or cause to be made, any false statements or false entry in any book of any investment company or exhibit any false paper with the intention of deceiving any person authorized to examine into the affairs of any investment company, or shall make, utter or publish any false statement of the financial condition of any investment company, or the stock, bonds or other securities by it offered for sale, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 9, ch. 6422, 1913; RGS 5748; CGL 7975; s. 866, ch. 71-136.

817.35 Sale of cemetery lots or mausoleum space; promises.--

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation, to sell, offer for sale, or advertise for sale, cemetery lots or mausoleum space, upon the guarantee, promise, representation or inducement to the purchaser that the same may be sold or repurchased at a financial profit.

(2) Any violation of this section shall constitute a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--ss. 1, 2, ch. 22080, 1943; s. 7B, ch. 24337, 1947; s. 867, ch. 71-136.

817.355 Fraudulent creation or possession of admission ticket.--Any person who counterfeits, forges, alters, or possesses any ticket, token, or paper designed for admission to or the rendering of services by any sports, amusement, concert, or other facility offering services to the general public, with the intent to defraud such facility, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 84-297; s. 195, ch. 91-224.

817.36 Resale of tickets of common carriers, places of amusement, etc.--

(1)(a) Whoever shall offer for sale or sell any ticket good for passage or accommodations on any common carrier in this state and request or receive a price in excess of $1 above the retail price charged therefor by the original seller of said ticket shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(b) The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to travel agencies that have an established place of business in this state, which place of business is required to pay state, county, and city occupational license taxes.

(2)(a) Whoever shall offer for sale or sell any ticket good for admission to any sporting exhibition, athletic contest, theater, or any exhibition where an admission price is charged and request or receive a price in excess of $1 above the retail admission price charged therefor by the original seller of said ticket shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(b) The provisions of this subsection shall apply to travel agencies that have an established place of business in this state, which place of business is required to pay state, county, and city occupational license taxes, unless such agencies are registered sellers of travel pursuant to part XI of chapter 559 and adhere to the restriction of selling said tickets as part of the travel packages specified in that part, and such travel agencies are reselling said tickets on behalf of the original sellers of said tickets. When any original seller of tickets provides a travel agency with tickets in bulk, the travel agent shall be deemed to be reselling the tickets on behalf of the original seller.

History.--ss. 1, 1a, ch. 22726, 1945; s. 868, ch. 71-136; s. 7, ch. 90-231; s. 9, ch. 95-314.

817.361 Resale of multiday or multievent ticket.--Whoever offers for sale, sells, or transfers in connection with a commercial transaction, with or without consideration, any nontransferable ticket or other nontransferable medium designed for admission to more than one amusement location or other facility offering entertainment to the general public, or for admission for more than 1 day thereto, after said ticket or other medium has been used at least once for admission, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A nontransferable ticket or other nontransferable medium is one on which is clearly printed the phrase: "Nontransferable; must be used by the same person on all days" or words of similar import. Upon conviction for a second or subsequent violation of this subsection, such person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 1, ch. 88-127.

817.37 Touting; defining; providing punishment; ejection from racetracks.--

(1) Any person who knowingly and designedly by false representation attempts to, or does persuade, procure or cause another person to wager on a horse in a race to be run in this state or elsewhere, and upon which money is wagered in this state, and who asks or demands compensation as a reward for information or purported information given in such case is a tout, and is guilty of touting.

(2) Any person who is a tout, or who attempts or conspires to commit touting, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(3) Any person who in the commission of touting falsely uses the name of any official of the Florida Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering, its inspectors or attaches, or of any official of any racetrack association, or the names of any owner, trainer, jockey, or other person licensed by the Florida Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering, as the source of any information or purported information shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(4) Any person who has been convicted of touting by any court, and the record of whose conviction on such charge is on file in the office of the Florida Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering, any court of this state, or of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or any person who has been ejected from any racetrack of this or any other state for touting or practices inimical to the public interest shall be excluded from all racetracks in this state and if such person returns to a racetrack he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Any such person who refuses to leave such track when ordered to do so by inspectors of the Florida Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering or by any peace officer, or by an accredited attache of a racetrack or association shall be guilty of a separate offense which shall be a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.083.

History.--ss. 1-4, ch. 24344, 1947; s. 10, ch. 26484, 1951; s. 1, ch. 67-233; s. 2, ch. 71-98; s. 869, ch. 71-136; s. 1257, ch. 97-102.

817.38 Simulated process.--

(1) CIRCULATION PROHIBITED.--It is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to send or deliver, or cause to be sent or delivered any letter, paper, document, notice of intent to bring suit, or other notice or demand, which simulates a summons, complaint, writ, or other court process, or any letter, paper, or document which simulates the seal of the state or the stationery of any state agency or fictitious state agency with intent to lead the recipient or sendee to believe that the same is genuine, for the purpose of obtaining any money or thing of value, or that a state agency is the sending party. The sending of such simulating document shall be prima facie evidence of such intent, and it shall be no defense to show that the document bears any statement to the contrary, nor shall it be a defense to show that the money or thing of value sought to be obtained was to apply as payment on a valid obligation.

(2) EVIDENCE OF DELIVERY.--In prosecutions for violation of this section, the prosecution may show that the simulating document was deposited in the post office for mailing or was delivered to any person with intent to be forwarded, and such showing shall be sufficient proof of the sending or delivery.

(3) VENUE.--Any person violating this section may be tried therefor in the county where such simulating document was so deposited, or the county where the same was received.

(4) EXCEPTION.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the printing, publication or distribution of blank forms of genuine summons and other court process.

(5) PENALTIES.--Any person, firm or corporation violating this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--ss. 1-5, ch. 57-73; s. 1, ch. 65-336; s. 870, ch. 71-136.

817.39 Simulated forms of court or legal process, or official seal or stationery; publication, sale or circulation unlawful; penalty.--

(1) Any person, firm, or corporation who shall print, for the purpose of sale or distribution and for use in the state, or who shall circulate, publish, or offer for sale any letter, paper, document, notice of intent to bring suit, or other notice or demand, which simulates a form of court or legal process, or any person who without authority of the state shall print, for the purpose of sale or distribution for use in the state, or who without authority of the state shall circulate, publish, use, or offer for sale any letters, papers, or documents which simulate the seal of the state, or the stationery of a state agency or fictitious state agency is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) It shall be no defense that the paper or other instrument referred to in subsection (1) shall declare that it is not a court or legal process.

(3) Nothing in this section shall prevent the printing, publication, sale or distribution of genuine legal forms for the use of attorneys or clerks of courts.

History.--ss. 1-3, ch. 57-265; s. 2, ch. 65-336; s. 871, ch. 71-136; s. 240, ch. 77-104.

817.40 False, misleading and deceptive advertising and sales; definitions.--When construing ss. 817.40, 817.41, 817.43-817.47, and each and every word, phrase or part thereof, where the context will permit:

(1) The word or term "wholesale" or "wholesale sale" shall extend to and include an "at-cost sale," "below-cost sale," and terms of similar purport, and embraces all sales purporting to be made at or below the seller's net delivered cost price, or below the average wholesale cost of the items sold or to be sold, but which are in fact made for a price in excess of the average wholesale of like items.

(2) The word or term "retail" means the sale or offering for sale of individual items of merchandise to the ultimate consumer.

(3) The term or word "retailer" means one who acquires for the purpose of sale, keeps for sale, offers or exposes for sale, or sells individual units of merchandise to the ultimate consumer and not for resale.

(4) The term or word "merchandise" includes goods, wares and merchandise, as generally understood, and in addition thereto services and other things of value.

(5) The phrase "misleading advertising" includes any statements made, or disseminated, in oral, written, or printed form or otherwise, to or before the public, or any portion thereof, which are known, or through the exercise of reasonable care or investigation could or might have been ascertained, to be untrue or misleading, and which are or were so made or disseminated with the intent or purpose, either directly or indirectly, of selling or disposing of real or personal property, services of any nature whatever, professional or otherwise, or to induce the public to enter into any obligation relating to such property or services.

(6) The definitions contained in s. 1.01, insofar as the context of this act will permit, shall be applicable hereto.

History.--s. 1, ch. 59-301; s. 73, ch. 95-211.

817.41 Misleading advertising prohibited.--

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to make or disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated before the general public of the state, or any portion thereof, any misleading advertisement. Such making or dissemination of misleading advertising shall constitute and is hereby declared to be fraudulent and unlawful, designed and intended for obtaining money or property under false pretenses.

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to advertise, in any way or by any medium whatsoever, any sale as a "wholesale sale," "below cost sale," or terms of similar purport, unless the goods, wares or merchandise offered for sale thereby are offered by the seller at or below his or her delivered net cost price, or below the average wholesale price of such goods, wares, or merchandise. Such advertising of goods, wares, or merchandise for sale shall constitute and is hereby declared to be fraudulent and unlawful, designed and intended for obtaining money or property under false pretenses.

(3) Any retailer using the term or phrase "wholesale sale," "below cost sale," or terms of similar purport, in connection with the sale of goods, wares, or merchandise at retail, shall, upon demand by a customer, forthwith make available, unless the same shall have theretofore been made available, to the Better Business Bureau, the Merchant's Division of the Chamber of Commerce, or to the state attorney's office for inspection, invoices, or shipping charges or true and correct copies thereof, of any goods, wares, or merchandise so offered for sale, described or represented, indicating the delivery net cost to the seller of the particular goods, wares or merchandise sold or offered for sale, from which the seller's delivered net cost may be determined. The said retailer shall also and at the same time give all reasonable assistance in determining and ascertaining his or her net cost price of said goods, wares, or merchandise. The said Better Business Bureau, Merchant's Division of the Chamber of Commerce or state attorney, upon determining the said delivered net cost, shall forthwith issue a certificate evidencing such delivered net cost, as determined, and deliver the same to the retailer for delivery or exhibition to the customer. Unless such certificate shall show a delivered net cost equal to or in excess of the advertised price, the retailer shall be presumed to have violated this law.

(4) There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the person named in or obtaining the benefits of any misleading advertisement or any such sale is responsible for such misleading advertisement or unlawful sale.

(5) No retailer shall knowingly and willfully advertise merchandise for sale at a special or wholesale price, in any way or by any medium whatsoever, if he or she does not have sufficient quantities of the advertised merchandise to meet the reasonably foreseeable demand, unless the fact of limited quantity and the approximate number of items is stated in the advertisement, or unless the retailer provides a means by which the consumer may obtain the advertised item at the advertised price within a reasonable time or a value equivalent thereto.

(6) Any person prevailing in a civil action for violation of this section shall be awarded costs, including reasonable attorney's fees, and may be awarded punitive damages in addition to actual damages proven. This provision is in addition to any other remedies prescribed by law.

History.--s. 2, ch. 59-301; s. 1, ch. 73-60; s. 2, ch. 77-304; s. 1258, ch. 97-102.

817.411 False information; advertising.--No person, firm or corporation shall knowingly publish, disseminate, circulate, or place before the public, or cause directly or indirectly, to be made, published, disseminated, circulated, or placed before the public, in a newspaper, magazine or other publication, or in the form of a notice, circular, pamphlet, letter or poster, or over any radio or television station, or in any other way, any advertisement, announcement, or statement containing any assertion, representation, or statement that commodities, mortgages, promissory notes, securities, or other things of value offered for sale are covered by insurance guaranties where such insurance is nonexistent or does not in fact insure against the risks covered.

History.--s. 1, ch. 61-110.

817.412 Sale of used goods as new; penalty.--

(1) It is unlawful for a seller in a transaction where the purchase price of goods exceeds $100 to misrepresent orally, in writing, or by failure to speak that the goods are new or original when they are used or repossessed or where they have been used for sales demonstration.

(2) A person who violates the provisions of this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

History.--s. 14, ch. 93-38.

817.413 Sale of used motor vehicle goods as new; penalty.--

(1) With respect to a transaction for which any charges will be paid from the proceeds of a motor vehicle insurance policy, and in which the purchase price of motor vehicle goods exceeds $100, it is unlawful for the seller to knowingly misrepresent orally, in writing, or by failure to speak, that the goods are new or original when they are used or repossessed or have been used for sales demonstration.

(2) A person who violates the provisions of this section commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

History.--s. 6, ch. 2003-148.

817.415 Florida Free Gift Advertising Law.--

(1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.--

(a) The Legislature of the State of Florida recognizes that the deceptive misuse of the term "free" and words of similar meaning and intent in advertising by the unscrupulous has resulted in deception of consumers, leading them unknowingly to assume contractual obligations which were initially concealed by the deception.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to prevent such deception by requiring disclosure of all contingent conditions, obligations, or considerations in any form in connection with the advertising of goods or services using the term "free" or words of similar meaning and intent.

(c) It is not the intent of the Legislature to prohibit the use of gifts in legitimate promotions of trade so long as the advertising of such gifts and promotions makes full disclosure of any requirement for purchase or contractual obligations to be assumed in order to qualify for the gift.

(2) SHORT TITLE.--This act may be cited as the "Florida Free Gift Advertising Law."

(3) DEFINITIONS.--As used in this act:

(a) "Person" includes an individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other entity doing business in the state.

(b) "Free" includes the use of terms such as "awarded," "prize," "absolutely without charge," "free of charge," and words or groups of words of similar intent which reasonably lead a person to believe that he or she may receive, or has been selected to receive, something of value, entirely or in part without a requirement of compensation in any form from the recipient.

(c) "Item" means goods, services, or any tangible or intangible thing of value and the rights therein.

(d) "Advertisement" and "advertising" includes every form of communication which offers for sale, or attempts to induce the creation of obligations in exchange for, any item or rights therein.

(4) RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF WORD "FREE."--Any item or portion of an item unconditionally offered as "free" shall in fact be free, without obligation or requirement of consideration in any form, when accepted in writing within the time limit set forth in the advertisement or within a reasonable time, if no time limit is so set. However, any person so receiving and accepting such offer may be required to pay any necessary transportation or delivery charges directly to the United States Postal Service or other regulated public carrier.

(5) REQUIREMENTS FOR ADVERTISEMENTS.--Advertising in which items are offered as free with conditions or obligations necessary to acceptance shall include a clear and conspicuous statement of any such conditions or obligations and advertising in compliance herewith shall not be considered deceptive.

(6) VIOLATIONS.--Any violation of this section is declared to be a deceptive trade practice and unlawful.

(7) INJUNCTIONS.--The Commissioner of Agriculture or the Attorney General may bring an action for injunction to prohibit practices in violation of this law, and any such injunction shall be issued without bond. Such suit may be brought in any circuit court of this state having jurisdiction over the party or parties defendant.

History.--ss. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ch. 70-164; s. 1, ch. 70-439; ss. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ch. 72-4; s. 1259, ch. 97-102; s. 11, ch. 98-299.

817.416 Franchises and distributorships; misrepresentations.--

(1) DEFINITIONS.--For the purpose of this section:

(a) The term "person" means an individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other entity doing business in Florida.

(b) The term "franchise or distributorship" means a contract or agreement, either expressed or implied, whether oral or written, between two or more persons:

1. Wherein a commercial relationship of definite duration or continuing indefinite duration is involved;

2. Wherein one party, hereinafter called the "franchisee," is granted the right to offer, sell, and distribute goods or services manufactured, processed, distributed or, in the case of services, organized and directed by another party;

3. Wherein the franchisee as an independent business constitutes a component of franchisor's distribution system; and

4. Wherein the operation of the franchisee's business franchise is substantially reliant on franchisors for the basic supply of goods.

(c) The term "goods" means any article or thing without limitation, or any part of such article or thing, including any article or thing used or consumed by a franchisee in rendering a service established, organized, directed, or approved by a franchisor.

(2) DECLARATIONS.--

(a) It is unlawful, when selling or establishing a franchise or distributorship, for any person:

1. Intentionally to misrepresent the prospects or chances for success of a proposed or existing franchise or distributorship;

2. Intentionally to misrepresent, by failure to disclose or otherwise, the known required total investment for such franchise or distributorship; or

3. Intentionally to misrepresent or fail to disclose efforts to sell or establish more franchises or distributorships than is reasonable to expect the market or market area for the particular franchise or distributorship to sustain.

(b) The execution or carrying out of a scheme, plan, or corporate organization which violates any of the provisions of this section, if knowledge or intent be proved, shall be a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082 and 775.083.

(3) CIVIL PROVISIONS.--Any person, who shows in a civil court of law a violation of this section may receive a judgment for all moneys invested in such franchise or distributorship. Upon such a showing, the court may award any person bringing said action reasonable attorney's fees and shall award such person reasonable costs incurred in bringing the action, and execution shall thereupon issue.

(4) INJUNCTIONS.--The Department of Legal Affairs, or the Department of Legal Affairs and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services jointly, may sue in behalf of the people of this state for injunctive relief against franchise or distributorship plans or activities in violation of paragraph (2)(a).

History.--ss. 1, 2, 2A, 3, 4, ch. 71-61.

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