ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County's property appraiser is putting more muscle behind an effort that's already put $51 million of tax payer money, back where it belongs.
Last year Rick Singh cracked down on people who were not living in the county but still claimed a homestead exemption.
Channel 9's Mario Boone confronted one homeowner who was forced to pay more than $40,000 in back taxes and penalties
Mark Fuqua told Boone he had to travel back and forth between Florida and Missouri but his wife, who is the registered owner of the home, lives there full time.
Fuqua insisted they never ripped off the system but gave up their fight, and paid the outstanding taxes and penalties, totaling $43,000.
That’s just a small piece of the $50 million worth of homestead fraud the property appraiser's office says it uncovered last year.
Singh plans to dedicate even more resources toward making sure people claiming a homestead exemption really live here.
"This is something that's being exploited by certain segments of the community," Singh said.
Singh said he just hired two full-time investigators to go after homestead cheaters.
"The property appraiser has the option to go back 10 years, so it could be quite costly to someone that's doing it maliciously," Singh said.
Homestead Exemption Fraud Hotline: (407) 836-5046