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Press Release

Woman Pleads Guilty to Disaster Fraud Related to Hurricane Matthew

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH – Robert J. Higdon, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, announces today that SHEILA RUFFIN, 50, of Rocky Mount, pled guilty to 15 counts of Disaster Fraud related to the Hurricane Matthew recovery effort conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

RUFFIN made false statements and representations and submitted fraudulent documentation FEMA in connection with applications for federal disaster assistance following Hurricane Matthew.  From January 31, 2017 to January 29, 2018, RUFFIN was awarded more than $11,000.00 in rental assistance to which she was not entitled.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General.  Assistant United States Attorney Toby Lathan is prosecuting the case for the government.

Members of the public who suspect fraud involving disaster relief efforts, or believe 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 live operators 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also fax information to the Center at (225) 334-4707, or email it to  Learn more about the National Center for Disaster Fraud at and watch a public service announcement here.  Tips for the public on how to avoid being victims of fraud can be found at

Updated May 22, 2019