• Stephen Warneke

Runaway Wedding Photographer, the Truth About High Water Bills, & How Best to Donate to Charities

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED. Today was the day we answered YOUR questions South Florida consumers!

Has your water bill skyrocketed recently? We investigated directly with the City of Fort Lauderdale and we are pleased to provide you with a list of resources, advice on next steps to take to resolve your issues, and how to break down your bill. Featuring special guests from the Strategic Communications and Revenue Collections Departments.

Getting married and hiring a wedding photographer? It might not be the bride you have to worry about getting cold feet! DON'T FALL FOR THIS SCAMMING RUNAWAY PHOTOGRAPHER! Special thanks to Nichole for making our listeners aware.

Do you have charities calling you up asking for donations? Unsure of whether it's a worthy cause or just a scam? Our resident former financial fraud detective tells you how to know the difference, plus recommends the top 10 police charities!


In our first episode, Bonnie had approached the Steve Warneke Show saying her water bill had skyrocketed in the past few months. She took to the popular neighborhood site NextDoor and quickly learned she wasn’t the only one with questions. While many also had high reports of water usage, Bonnie’s case was particularly unusual, and therefore The Steve Warneke Show investigated.

We approached the head of the Utility Department of the City of Fort Lauderdale who connected us with the Public Information Office who looked into Bonnie's case specifically as well as educated us with resources offered by the city and steps on what to do if YOU think your water bill is too high!

Shannon Vezina, the Asst. Strategic Communications Manager and Veronica Wade, the Revenue Collections Manager of the City of Fort Lauderdale came on the air to share with listeners the details: While Bonnie’s case had been special, they confirmed that city staff had been in touch with Ms. Weaver regarding her utility account and researched her consumption history.

In September 2018, her average consumption for the prior 12 months was about 15,000 gallons per month.

From October 2018 through January 2020, consumption was as follows:

  • October 2018 – April 2019 – No Consumption

  • May 2019- 1,000 gallons

  • June 2019- 3,000 gallons (Consumption was estimated because meter was inaccessible and could not be read.)

  • July 2019- 30,000 gallons (Bonnie received an unusual consumption credit.)

  • August 2019- 11,000 gallons

  • September 2019- 16,000 gallons

  • October –5,000 gallons (Consumption was estimated because meter was inaccessible and could not be read.)

  • November 2019– 22,000 gallons (New meter installed.)

  • December 2019 - 9,000 gallons

  • January 2020- 7,000 gallons

In summary, Bonnie was given an unusual consumption credit in July 2019. The city also replaced her water meter in November 2019. When the city tested the meter that was replaced, they found it was functioning properly.

The city suggested Ms. Weaver install a separate meter for irrigation, to reduce costs going forward.

Shannon Vezina and Veronica Wade also shared the following resources for others who want to investigate their high water bills, and assured The Steve Warneke Show listeners that the City is here to assist!

  • You can always visit City Hall and talk to a representative directly about your usage and bill. City Hall is open to the public from 7:30 am - 5:00 pm.

  • Call the Utilities Department at 954-828-5150.

  • The City also offers a 24/7 Customer Service Center. you can call them at 954-828-8000 or report a problem here.

The Steve Warneke Show also got a call from one of 850 WFTL loyal listeners, Constantine, who reported that she had been contacted by a police department via phone to make a donation and wasn't sure whether it was legitimate or if she was being taken advantage of.

Having spent several years in the past as a financial crimes detective, Your Detective of the Air and host, Steve Warneke, was ready for this one!

We were able to locate a recent scam in the West Palm Beach, Constantine's hometown, where someone was posing as the police department.

Steve informed listeners that as far as we are aware police departments DO NOT SOLICIT MONEY BY PHONE. There are some organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) who do engage in phone solicitation for donations. For instance, the Davie FOP, do in fact contract with J&G of South Florida to conduct telephone solicitations to help raise money.

The Davie FOP uses donation money to support charitable community projects, such as Concerns of Police Survivors, Special Olympics, Youth Athletic programs, Davie Police Athletic League, college scholarships to local students, and other local programs.  In addition, proceeds are also used to benefit families of fallen officers, our local law enforcement community, local businesses, and the community.

If you're ever in doubt, Steve advised listeners to ask the charity for their tax ID number, website, and callback number, then do some research! You can then verify the tax ID number matches the organization. Then, look up the organization and see if the website and phone number match what was given to you.

Or to avoid any question of trouble, take the initiative and just simply google charities you believe in and want to be involved in and donate to those instead!

As a regular contributor to Police One's online blog, Steve found a list of the top 10 recommended police charities you could donate to if you're interested!

Nichole got in touch with The Steve Warneke Show to report that she had been scammed out of not only $925, but also the precious photos of her and her husband Jake's beautiful wedding day on North Captiva Island in February of 2019.

A year later April Mersinger Photography still has not given Nichole her wedding photos. After several months of excuses, the bride's sister in law, Miranda took to social media to warn other women from falling to this scam, leaving a scathing review.

And then it went viral. As it turns out, Nichole and Jake were not the only ones who claim to have been scammed by April Mersinger.

The Steve Warneke Show first reached out to April to come on the show and explain her side of the story, beseeching her and appealing to her good nature to make it right.

But we could only message her through Facebook on her personal profile. If you research April Mersinger Photography, you find a poor Google rating, with a broken website link, a disconnected phone line, and 5 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau, with whom she is not accredited.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Nichole and Jake are going to get any more than the few photos they have from the cellphones of their guests, and a couple of shots April had originally sent as a preview.

In fact, during their last communication, April reportedly demanded even more money for Nichole to finally be given, more than a year later, all of the photos from her big day.

"We've tried everything to reach her..."

We want to make our listeners aware... STAY VIGILANT!

If you haven't already, or need more information, listen to the recorded show HERE!



Until next time..!

The Steve Warneke Show is LIVE SATURDAYS at 10AM EST to 850 WFTL on your South Florida AM dial or you can stream live during the show at www.850wftl.com.