Fresno Man Sentenced to Over Five Years in Prison for Using Elderly Victim’s Identity to Steal to Steal Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars
REDDING, Calif. — U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott and Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie A. Bridgett joined forces today to raise public awareness of the potential for fraud in the wake of the wildfires currently plaguing Northern California. The public is urged to be vigilant in reporting suspected fraudulent activity relating to recovery and cleanup operations, fake charities claiming to provide relief for victims, individuals submitting false claims for disaster relief, and any other disaster fraud related activity.
U.S. Attorney Scott stated: “While most people respond to tragic events like the Carr Fire with compassion and generosity, others take advantage of such disasters to fraudulently enrich themselves. I strongly encourage the public to report any suspected fraudulent activity occurring in the aftermath of our state’s devastating wildfires. With the combined resources of federal and local law enforcement, we will aggressively pursue and prosecute fraud and abuse.”
Shasta County DA Bridgett stated: “Since the day the Carr Fire blew into our community we have been working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure you are not further victimized by fraud. We believe these cases are a priority and will ensure maximum resources are directed to the investigation and prosecution of each offender.”
The U.S. Department of Justice established the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast region. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or manmade disaster. More than 20 federal, state, and local agencies participate in the NCDF, which allows the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.
Members of the public are reminded to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before trusting anyone purporting to be working on behalf of disaster victims, and to be especially cautious of anyone who contacts you seeking personal identifying information or financial information. Members of the public who suspect fraud involving disaster relief efforts, or who believe that they have been the victim of fraud from a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of disaster victims, should contact the National Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at (866) 720-5721. The telephone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also fax information to the Center at (225) 334-4707, or email it to email@example.com. Learn more about the NCDF at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud and watch a public service announcement here.