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Miami, Florida – Acting United States Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg has established a Disaster Fraud Task Force within the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida (SDFL) to help combat fraud schemes that develop following Hurricane Irma. The U.S. Attorney’s Office protects and serves the residents and visitors of Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee and Highlands counties by enforcing federal laws. Acting U.S. Attorney Greenberg urges all Florida residents and businesses to immediately report suspected fraudulent activity related to recovery and cleanup operations, fraudulent charities that falsely claim to provide relief for victims, and individuals submitting false claims for disaster relief.
The newly created Task Force will be staffed by experienced prosecutors throughout the SDFL and will work closely with our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to protect the benefits destined for citizens who are victims of this disaster.
The Task Force will also work closely with the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), which was established 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. The NCDF mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or manmade disaster. More than 30 federal, state, and local agencies have partnered with NCDF, which allows the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.
“As our South Florida community recovers from Hurricane Irma, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and our law enforcement partners stand ready to investigate and prosecute in federal court anyone who seeks to re-victimize, defraud or exploit the individuals and businesses in need,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg. “Our united enforcement front will work hard to combat criminal activity, including fraud schemes associated with the hurricane’s devastation. Our mission is to ensure that federal, state and local programs, as well as reputable public and charitable assistance initiatives reach those struck by the impact of our recent natural disaster and are not fraudulently diverted to the criminals’ pockets.”
The public is reminded to be extremely cautious before providing personal identifying information or account data to anyone, especially those who may contact you. Residents should also remember to perform due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations or individuals offering to provide assistance to those affected by the hurricane.
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 (NCDF) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information regarding the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the Disaster Fraud Task Force and NCDF, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl.