Pandemic scams bill headed to Florida House floor

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a priority of Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, a House committee on Monday unanimously approved a bill that would crack down on people who run scams about vaccines and personal protective equipment during pandemics.

The vote by the House Judiciary Committee positioned the bill (HB 9) to be heard by the full House after the annual legislative session begins Tuesday.

Sponsor Ardian Zika, R-Land O’ Lakes, said it stems from people using authentic-looking websites to run scams that purportedly offer access to COVID-19 vaccines or personal protective equipment.

“This is important legislation that protects Florida consumers against fraud during a pandemic,” Zika said.

The bill would lead to felony charges for people who run the scams and would authorize the attorney general to seek injunctions to shut down websites or other platforms that are used to spread fraudulent information.