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Attorney General Moody Takes Multistate Action Against President Biden’s New Parole Program

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Ashley Moody is taking action to stop President Joe Biden’s latest unlawful immigration move—Biden wants to stop illegal immigration by attempting to legalize unlawful entry for hundreds of thousands of immigrants. Just days before Attorney General Moody took Biden to court for refusing to enforce federal immigration laws, the president announced a new parole program that could allow up to 30,000 previously inadmissible immigrants into the U.S. monthly. Attorney General Moody and other state attorneys general are taking swift action to stop this latest unlawful immigration program.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “As we prepared to take Biden to court over his unlawful catch-and-release policies, the president announced yet another reckless attempt to continue flooding the country with massive waves of illegal immigrants. Biden’s new solution to his self-created crisis at the border is to allow illegal immigrants to travel directly into the interior of the country without crossing the southern border—in direct violation of federal law. His unlawful actions will not go unchecked, and we will continue to fight in court to force this president to follow public-safety immigration laws.”  

On Jan. 5, Biden and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of a new parole program for citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Instead of attempting to cross the border on land, this program allows up to 30,000 immigrants per month to apply for advance authorization from the U.S. to enter for up to two years with permission to work.

In a complaint to enjoin Biden and DHS from implementing the program, the attorneys general argue that the president’s action goes against federal law. Congress limited the parole power of the president under 8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5). It can be used only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

The complaint states: “The program established by the Department fails each of those limiting factors. It is not case-by-case, is not for urgent humanitarian reasons, and advances no significant public benefit. Instead, it amounts to the creation of a new visa program that allows hundreds of thousands of aliens to enter the United States who otherwise have no basis for doing so. This flouts, rather than follows, the clear limitations imposed by Congress.”

Additionally, the Biden administration instituted the program without engaging in the usual notice and comment rulemaking process required by law.

In addition to Attorney General Moody, the following state attorneys general signed onto the complaint: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

To read a copy of the complaint, click here.

Biden made this announcement just days before the trial began in Attorney General Moody’s case against Biden’s catch-and-release policies. Attorney General Moody sued DHS for failing to follow federal law and detain inadmissible immigrants until the immigrants are repatriated to their home country, as is required under the Immigration and Nationality Act. To learn more, click here.

 

North Florida News

Senator Gayle Harrell endorsed by Kathleen Passidomo, GOP Senate Leaders for re-election

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (FRCC) announced in a press release that Senate leaders President Kathleen Passidomo, President-Designate Ben Albritton and Senators Jim Boyd and Jay Trumbull today endorse Gayle Harrell for Senate District 31.

Joint Statement from Senate Leaders Passidomo, Albritton, Boyd and Trumbull

“Gayle brings an unparalleled health care expertise, a relentless commitment to protecting our waterways and a steadfast drive for preserving parental rights to the Florida Senate on behalf of the hard working Floridians she serves. She is an advocate for doing the right thing, putting people first and ensuring access to opportunity for all. We are proud to endorse Gayle Harrell for the Florida Senate because no one will work harder to be a voice for Senate District 31.”

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North Florida News

AG Moody Shuts Down Fake Websites Scamming SunPass Users

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Standing with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Transportation at a toll plaza in Orlando today, Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a Consumer Alert warning Floridians about a concerning new smishing scam targeting drivers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that scammers are sending fraudulent text messages to individuals claiming unpaid toll fees and providing links to settle the alleged debts. However, these links are malicious and designed to steal victims’ money. These scams are also being seen targeting E-ZPass users. Attorney General Moody’s Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit, working with FDLE, recently shut down 10 imposter websites.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Cybercriminals are sending text messages to thousands of unsuspecting drivers in the hopes that some of them will be tricked into paying a toll fee for a violation that never occurred. While this smishing scam is happening across the nation, our Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit worked closely with FDLE to shut down 10 fraudulent sites designed to mimic the official SunPass website and steal payments from drivers who received their fake text messages.”

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Deputy Commissioner Vaden Pollard said, “FDLE agents believe there could be hundreds of victims in Florida who received a fraudulent text message saying they owed money to SunPass. FDLE’s Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit was able to quickly seize the fraudulent websites, stopping the victimization. Thanks to Attorney General Ashley Moody, FDLE has the investigative resources and expertise to move quickly when it matters most.”

Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E., said, “The Florida Department of Transportation and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise place our customer’s privacy and security at the utmost importance. With that at our core focus, we are grateful for Attorney General Moody’s immediate response to stop this scam in its tracks and protect Floridians from these criminals attempting to manipulate customers and gain access to their sensitive information. FDOT proudly stands alongside the Attorney General’s office and our law enforcement partners as we continue to go to bat for the people of Florida.”

Below is an example of the unpaid toll scam text message:

While the authentic Sun Pass web address is SunPass.com, the smishing messages direct targets to fraudulent URLs set up to mimic the official sight. Attorney General Moody’s Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit recently shut down 10 of these fraudulent sites listed below:

  • sunpass-service.com
  • sunpass-help.com
  • sunpass-online.com
  • sunpass-florida.com
  • sunpass-toll.com
  • sunpass-tolls.com
  • sunpass-express.com
  • service-sunpass.com
  • tolls-sunpass.com
  • web-sunpass.com

Florida is particularly susceptible to this emerging threat as it is home to the most toll roads of any state in the nation—more than 700 miles. These roads are necessary to help the 22 million Florida residents and 130 million Florida visitors get to destinations safely and on time.

Attorney General Moody offers the following tips to Floridians to avoid toll smishing scams:

  • Avoid Clicking Links: Refrain from clicking on any links provided in unsolicited messages, especially those claiming to be from SunPass, E-ZPass or FDOT;
  • Verify the Source: Independently confirm the information by contacting FDOT or SunPass using contact information found on an official organization’s website;
  • Check Account Status: Regularly check an online toll account to add an extra layer of protection;
  • Protect Personal Information: Do not provide personal or financial information in response to unsolicited messages, emails or phone calls; and
  • Register Phone Number with Do Not Call List: To help block robocalls and spam text messages, register phone numbers at DoNotCall.gov.

To report suspicious activity related to SunPass or E-ZPass, Floridians can file complaints at FDLE’s Report a Cybercrime webpage.

To view other Consumer Alerts, visit MyFloridaLegal.com/Consumer Alert.

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North Florida News

Attorney General Moody Files Criminal Charges Against Two Men Operating Crypto Money Laundering Scheme Transferring Millions to Colombia

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FILE - Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody speaks at a domestic violence press conference in her Orlando office Thursday, August 26, 2021. (Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News, file photo).

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Ashley Moody is announcing criminal charges filed against two men for operating a cryptocurrency money laundering scheme transferring approximately $8 million to be withdrawn from ATM machines in Colombia. Attorney General Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution is charging Juan Paulo Galeano and Carlos Andrews Cardona Gomez with money laundering and operating as an unlicensed money transmitter. The defendants created shell digital consulting companies to purchase cryptocurrency and then used multiple financial institutions in Florida to operate a money-service business without a license. The Broward Sheriff’s Office facilitated Galeano’s arrest and Cardona is currently a fugitive in Colombia.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “This criminal duo operated a money-service business without a license to transfer approximately $8 million in an elaborate cryptocurrency laundering scheme—creating a flow of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. currency right into Medellin, Colombia. Thanks to multiple federal and state partners working together on this complex investigation, we have shut down this international criminal scheme.”

According to the investigation, the defendants conducted hundreds of financial transactions through digital asset/cryptocurrency exchange platforms, along with federal wire transfers. The defendants used shell companies to purchase cryptocurrency. Galeano claimed to be the officer or director of Canvas Digital Corp, based out of Miramar and advertised as a consulting service that focuses on digital services, marketing and photography. Cardona claimed to be the officer or director of Cabusa Compania Sas Corp, operating directly from Medellin, Colombia. The defendants utilized multiple cryptocurrency exchanges, including Kraken, Binance and FTX Crypto.

The investigation further revealed that the defendants claimed to provide digital services; however, there is no evidence of product or services. The defendants used a combination of the digital exchange platforms and multiple financial institutions—including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank and more—to layer the financial transactions and obscure the source of the funds. The money-service business scheme allowed approximately $8 million in U.S. currency to be withdrawn in Medellin, Colombia.

Attorney General Moody’s OSP will prosecute the case.

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