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Student PSA Videos Warn Floridians About Unlicensed CPA's

Steven Rodriguez

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants presented prizes on Tuesday to the winners of a public service video contest. 

Two students from University of Florida, Will Flynn and Mikaila Gazzillo won the grand prize.  Their video of a guinea pig in a cage, which Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Ken Lawson called “fun, informative, and fantastic”, won them a $1,000, and a $350 contribution to the University of Florida.  Flynn, a business student at UF, said he hadn’t always been in it to win it.

“Our teacher said ‘hey I have an extra credit opportunity for ya’ll. Go on this website and if you make this video I’ll give you some extra credit points’, so my partner Makaila was like ‘yeah we need to do this.  the class is tough, so let’s do it!’. And so right when we got out of that class she goes ‘OH I got the idea! We’re gonna use my guinea pig!’ and so we kinda just went with that and it worked out ok,” Flynn said.

The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants teamed up with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to create the contest and spread awareness of unlicensed CPA activity.  Institute President and CEO Deborah Curry said student involvement helps mold future CPA’s.

“It is very important for the young students who are studying accounting, and have their eyes on becoming future CPA’s to know that its not just technical skill set that’s important, but also understanding the ethics of the profession and how those ethics protect or can prevent the protection of the public,” Curry said.

Second place in the contest went to Team JJD from the University of South Florida. They received $500, along with a $250 university donation, for their video of Captain CPA.

Department Secretary Lawson said these videos will serve to send a message to consumers.

“By having this contest we allow our creative minds to create an ad like this, but to send a message that in the State of Florida if you’re gonna hire a CPA, make sure that person is licensed, cause if you hire someone who’s not license, who could give you a deal, you’re not gonna get a deal: perhaps he’s gonna steal your money, perhaps could commit fraud, commit some other type of crime, and you will be in trouble,” Lawson said.

The winning team accepted the thousand dollar check, but, Flynn says, they aren’t sure how they’re going to spend it yet.