BAY STATERS REMINDED TO REPORT DISASTER RELATED FRAUD
BOSTON, Mass. - United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz is urging Massachusetts residents and businesses to report suspected fraudulent activity related to flood relief operations and federal funding for flood victims from the March 12 through April 26 disaster.
“Homeowners and businesses across the Commonwealth have suffered enormous loss and damages due to severe flooding. FEMA grants are intended to assist those in need with repairs and loss recovery. It is imperative that credible allegations of fraud and abuse of disaster relief funds are thoroughly investigated. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, alongside our partner agencies are ready to respond. If you suspect fraud, we urge you to call the National Disaster Fraud Hotline.”
To date, FEMA has approved grants totaling nearly $51 million to help nearly 28,000 individuals in the declared counties recover from uninsured disaster-related damage or loss. In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved $20.3 million in low-interest loans to eligible homeowners, renters or business owners. FEMA recently extended the registration deadline to apply for disaster assistance to June 28, 2010, to accommodate a steady flow of several hundred new applications daily.
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 e-mail 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 victims. Solicitations can originate from e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings and telephone calls and similar methods.
In anticipation of unprecedented fraud in connection with federal disaster relief following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, a Joint Command Center was established in Baton Rouge, La., to coordinate reports of fraud. The Command Center, now known as the National Center for Disaster Fraud, has since expanded its mission to include suspected fraud from any natural or manmade disaster. More than 20 federal agencies participate in the center, allowing it to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information.
Again, if you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization
soliciting relief funds on behalf of flood victims, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to email@example.com.