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Press Release

Fernandina Beach Woman Pleads Guilty To Submitting False Claims For FEMA Benefits Involving Hurricane Irma

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Jacksonville, Florida – Jessica Ann Smothers (35, Fernandina Beach), a/k/a Annabella Oxendine, has pleaded guilty to disaster assistance fraud involving FEMA benefits. She faces up to 30 years in federal prison and payment of restitution to the United States in the amount of $13,838.70. A sentencing date has not yet been set. Smothers has remained in custody since her arrest on November 4, 2019.

According to court documents, on September 22, 2017, Smothers made an application for disaster assistance benefits to FEMA. In the application, she claimed that her primary residence in Fernandina Beach had suffered storm damage from Hurricane Irma and, due to the purported storm damage, she was displaced from her primary residence, initially forced to live in a tent, and subsequently rented another home in Fernandina Beach. Based on the statements made by Smothers in her application, FEMA paid $13,838.70 to Smothers in the form of critical needs assistance, personal property damage, and rental assistance. 

Further investigation determined that Smothers’s statements to FEMA were false. Her residence in Fernandina Beach had not been damaged and she lived there through, and after, Hurricane Irma.

This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security - Office of Inspector General, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein.

This case is part of the United States Attorney’s Disaster Fraud Task Force, which was announced in September 2017.

Members of the public who suspect fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, 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. A live operator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week staffs the telephone line. You can also fax information to the Center at (225) 334-4707, or email it to You may also visit

Updated December 20, 2019

Disaster Fraud
Financial Fraud