Tony Simmons

Older adults lose billions of dollars each year to scams and fraud, but you can learn how to spot common scams, keep your money secure, and report financial fraud if you suspect you’re a victim. To that end, Florida State University Panama City will host “Avoiding Fraud and Scams: Tips for Seniors” at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, in the Holley Center’s St. Joe Community Foundation Lecture Hall, 4750 Collegiate Drive, Panama City.

“Senior citizens may be the most financially vulnerable population in the U.S., and we have lots of seniors here in Florida,” said Diana Simpson, Ph.D., co-coordinator of the Financial Planning Program at FSU PC. “Older individuals — particularly retirees — are often targets of fraud and scams because they have already built their nest egg.”

This free event, open to the public, features guest speakers Tasha Carter, an insurance consumer advocate with the State of Florida, and attorney Russell Kent, senior corporate counsel for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP at to register for the seminar. 

Tasha Carter, insurance consumer advocate

“Our two speakers for this event are on the front lines of the battle against fraud in Florida, and they'll provide examples of the most recent scams against seniors, tips on how to spot a scammer, and what to do if you've been scammed,” Simpson said. “The event is set up as a panel discussion, so there will be lots of opportunity for audience participation.”

Carter joined the Department of Financial Services in 2003 and previously served as the director of the Division of Consumer Services for nearly 9 years, where she led a team of more than 100 professionals who advocated and assisted more than 300,000 insurance consumers annually. Collaborating closely with Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Carter spearheaded the CFO’s outreach initiatives to promote financial education for all Floridians.

Russell Kent, senior corporate counsel

Before joining Citizens, Kent served as the special counsel for litigation at the Attorney General’s Office from 2004-20, where he managed numerous federal and state court antitrust, constitutional, election and False Claims Act cases along with the State’s legal response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and tobacco enforcement matters. 

“Scammers are innovative. They are always coming up with new ways to separate someone from their lifetime savings,” Simpson said. “I've worked with many of these victims, and it is heartbreaking. That's why I feel that this event is so important.”

The seminar is a part of the Illumination Event Series and is organized by the Center for Organizational Excellence & Innovation at FSU PC.