With many still seeking federal assistance in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricane Ida, some law enforcement agencies have reported an uptick in fraudulent FEMA claims.
An alert was issued by police agencies cautioning about a rise in fraudulent FEMA claims filed in the name of people who did not experience disaster-related damage and who did not file any legitimate claim.
According to police, companies have been contracted by fraudsters to appear at individuals’ homes or to contact people about the claims to collect personal information or compensation.
It is believed that the fraud is being perpetrated from out of the country.
“At the same time, representatives contracted by FEMA are visiting parties to ascertain if a claim was legitimate,” police noted. “The residents being visited likely had fraudulent claims filed in their name.”
During COVID-19, claims were allowed to be filed online with no home visit for verification, though now FEMA wants the damages verified.
One of the companies that FEMA contracted with is “Vanguard” and they canvass residents who allegedly had claims, though solicitors have been posing was FEMA employees.
Police officials said that any legitimate FEMA employee will have a FEMA ID with a photograph.
“Simply claiming to be a member of FEMA or an article of clothing representing FEMA is NOT proof of ID or association with FEMA,” they added. “If you are visited in regards to a FEMA claim and are unsure if the visiting party is legitimate, contact (your local police department).
If you believe you may be a victim of fraud or identity theft, report it to your local police or sheriff’s department. You may also contact the FEMA Fraud Investigations and Inspections Division at 866-223-0814 or email StopFEMAFraud@fema.dhs.gov
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