U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
April 12, 2010
RHODE ISLANDERS REMINDED TO REPORT DISASTER RELATED FRAUD
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha is urging Rhode Island residents and businesses to be aware of and report suspected fraudulent activity related to flood relief operations and federal funding for flood victims. As of Monday, $12.5 million in FEMA grants have been dispersed, and nearly $8 million more has been approved. Those amounts are expected to grow considerably in the days and weeks ahead.
“We have adopted a zero tolerance policy for fraud,” said United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha. “Individuals, families and businesses have suffered tremendous losses and need these funds to get back on their feet. Nearly two dozen agencies, investigators and prosecutors are ready to respond to credible allegations of fraud and abuse. If you suspect fraud, we urge you to call the National Disaster Fraud Hotline.”
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. To date, the National Center for Disaster Fraud has received and screened more than 38,000 complaints and has referred more than 24,000 complaints of disaster fraud to law enforcement for investigation.
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.
Contact: Jim Martin, Public Information Officer