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FAQ: Guardianship Fraud Hotline

Guardianship Fraud Hotline - 561-355-FRAUD (561-355-3728)

For general information on guardianships, you may view Guardianship FAQs.

General Information
Definitions
How to File
After a Report is Filed
General Information
Why does the Clerk & Comptroller’s office have a Guardianship Fraud Hotline?

The Clerk & Comptroller’s office is committed to ensuring wards are protected from misconduct by their guardians. While routine audits by our highly trained staff of certified professionals are essential to uncovering guardianship fraud, the Clerk’s office also relies on tips from the public as an efficient tool to detecting fraud and other violations. The hotline is also considered an effective deterrent to fraud, waste and abuse.

Who should use the Guardianship Fraud Hotline?

Any member of the general public can use the hotline to report suspected instances of guardianship fraud, waste and abuse of which they have knowledge or have witnessed.

What should I report?

Members of the general public are encouraged to report to the Guardianship Fraud Hotline evidence of fraud or waste. Definitions and examples of these terms are provided below.

Definitions
What is fraud?

Fraud refers to an intentional deception or misrepresentation by a person with the knowledge that the deception could result in some unauthorized benefit to him/her or some other person.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Theft or misappropriation of the ward’s funds or property
  • Purchase of assets using the ward’s funds
  • Using proceeds from the sale of the ward’s assets for personal gain
  • Opening credit cards, loans and credit lines in the ward’s name for personal use
  • Forging or altering official documents
  • Submitting fictitious or inflated expenses or fees for reimbursement
  • Intentionally mismanaging funds to the guardian's benefit
What is waste?

Waste refers to the unintentional, thoughtless or careless expenditure, consumption, mismanagement, use or squandering of the ward’s assets.  Waste also includes unnecessary incurring of costs as a result of inefficient practices, systems or controls.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Purchasing a new automobile or extravagant household goods
  • Taking elaborate vacations
  • In general, incurring expenses on behalf of the ward that are not necessary
What should NOT be reported to the Guardianship Fraud Hotline?

The Guardianship Fraud Hotline should not be used to report physical abuse of a ward. In addition, threats of violence, emergencies or situations in which the ward’s health and safety are at risk should be reported immediately to the appropriate law enforcement agency or 911.

For issues not described on this page, please refer to additional resources listing.

How to File
How do I report a possible instance of fraud or waste ?

You have several options to submit a report, as detailed below.

  • OnlineFile a report now 
  • Phone: Dial 561-355-FRAUD (561-355-3728)
  • E-mail: fraud@mypalmbeachclerk.com
  • Walk-InGovernmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, 9th Floor, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
How do I file a report online?

Click on the “File a Report” link on the Clerk & Comptroller’s website to report an incident. You will be asked questions to enable us to gather as much pertinent information as possible. You can remain anonymous, if you choose, and are not required to provide personal information. When finished, click on “Submit Report.”

How do I file a report by phone?

Call 561-355-FRAUD (561-355-3728) to file a report by phone. Much like the process when you report online, you will be asked a series of questions to enable us to gather as much pertinent information as possible. You can remain anonymous if you choose and are not required to provide personal information.

After a Report is Filed
What happens after I submit a report?

Once the report is submitted either online or by phone, the Clerk & Comptroller’s Division of Inspector General begins an investigation. Unless you chose to identify yourself when reporting an issue, you will remain anonymous.

Our office will analyze the report to determine if there is sufficient evidence to substantiate or refute the complaint. If not, we will gather additional information by conducting interviews or obtaining documentation. We may also request more information from you if you provided your contact information.

If inappropriate activity is verified, our office will document the findings and make recommendations, including referral to the judiciary and/or law enforcement, if necessary. Cases that do not fall within the Clerk & Comptroller’s jurisdiction or require special expertise will be referred to the proper authorities.

How can I check on the status of my report or submit additional information after I’ve filed my report?

To check on the status of your report or submit new information, you may call the Guardianship Fraud Hotline at 561-355-FRAUD (561-355-3728). Occasionally, the Clerk's Division of Inspector General may have additional questions for you.

What happens if a claim is investigated and found to be untrue?

Investigations are stopped as soon as the complaint investigator gathers sufficient  evidence that either substantiates or refutes the claim. If a claim is neither substantiated nor refuted, the report is closed and no further action is taken. You may call 561-355-FRAUD (561-355-3728) to check the status of your report.

What happens if a claim is investigated and found to be true?

If sufficient evidence is obtained to substantiate the claim, the Clerk's Division of Inspector General will document the analysis results and make recommendations, including referral to the judiciary and/or law enforcement, if necessary. You may call 561-355-FRAUD (561-355-3728) to check the status of your report.

How does Florida’s Public Records law apply to the Guardianship Fraud Hotline?

Any information provided to the Clerk & Comptroller's Guardianship Fraud Hotline is subject to the Florida Open Records Law (see Florida Statute Section 112.3188). The content of your initial complaint is subject to disclosure upon submission, as is the final report of the investigation. Keep in mind, if you did not provide your name and identity in your report, it cannot be part of the disclosure.

Ethics Hotline

Message from
Clerk Bock

Sharon R. BockMy accredited Division of Inspector General has joined forces with my skilled guardianship auditors to begin conducting the highest level of fraud investigations possible on more than 2,600 guardianship cases. Never before in our county’s history have our most vulnerable citizens been so protected.
 
These audits, which are designed to better identify guardianship fraud, waste and financial mismanagement, come at such a critical time. It is estimated that as Palm Beach County’s senior population continues to grow, guardianship cases will increase 15 percent, or 400 cases, per year. The program, which is no additional cost to taxpayers, also serves our most innocent citizens, unemancipated minor children.
 
As your constitutional Clerk & Comptroller, I am committed to ensuring helpless citizens are properly cared for. Please join me in my efforts by reporting those who you suspect of mishandling a ward’s finances to the Guardianship Fraud Hotline. 

Sharon R. Bock, Esq.
Clerk & Comptroller
Palm Beach County