WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice reminds members of the public to be aware of and report any instances of suspected fraudulent charitable contribution schemes related to the natural disasters in Japan.
Members of the public should perform due diligence before giving contributions to individuals or organizations soliciting donations or claiming to provide assistance to the victims of natural disasters. Suspected fraudulent charity schemes should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, the Disaster Fraud Fax at 225-334-4707 or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“The unprecedented tragedy in Japan is inspiring many Americans to provide assistance to those in need,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. “To ensure these efforts reach the causes for which they are intended, individuals must be vigilant and wary of fraud schemes that seek to exploit their generosity. Suspicious or illegitimate charities should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.”
“As we watch one of the worst global disasters of the last century unfold in Japan, Americans will have increasing opportunities to help those affected through the work of dedicated charities,” said U.S. Attorney Jim Letten of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Executive Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud. “As we should be generous, Americans must also be smart in recognizing that as with other disasters, some will try to exploit that generosity through fraud, deceit and theft. We will therefore depend on the vigilance of our citizens to report any suspected fraudulent charities or conduct to the NCDF.”
The NCDF was created in 2005 in response to a significant amount of fraud associated with federal disaster relief programs following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. The NCDF mission has expanded to include suspected fraud related to any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, participate in the NCDF. The NCDF – based on its extensive expertise and established infrastructure – has helped victims of fraud related to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Ike and Gustav, as well as those affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill, severe storms in more than 20 different states, earthquakes, tsunamis and wildfires.
To date, the Department of Justice has charged more than 1,300 defendants in 47 judicial districts throughout the country for disaster fraud related to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, the Gulf Coast oil spill and other disasters.