WASHINGTON - In response to recent natural disasters in several states, and subsequent relief efforts, the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) is reminding the public to be aware of and report any instances of alleged fraudulent activity related to relief operations and funding for victims.
Members of the public can report fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations through the National Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at (866) 720-5721 or the Disaster Fraud email at firstname.lastname@example.org . The telephone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Members of the public are reminded to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of flood or tornado victims. Solicitations can originate from emails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings and telephone calls, and similar methods.
In response to a significant amount of fraud associated with federal disaster relief programs that went into effect following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, a Joint Command Center was established in Baton Rouge, La., in 2005. The command center, now known as the National Center for Disaster Fraud, has received and screened more than 39,000 complaints of disaster fraud and referred more than 25,000 of those to law enforcement for investigation. 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 severe storms in more than 20 different states, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires and Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
More than 20 federal agencies participate in the center, allowing it to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information. 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.