Hot to spot FEMA fraud and protect yourself after Hurricane Irma

Top ways bad guys are stealing FEMA money

Seminole Heights homeowner Veronica grew suspicious right away.

The woman on her doorstep said she was a FEMA inspector working for a private contractor.

But Veronica never filed any case since Irma left her home intact.

Veronica feared the stranger was impersonating a FEMA inspector. When this homeowner didn't answer the door the woman left multiple phone messages.

We vetted the inspector who showed up at Veronica's home and found she worked for Vanguard, a legitimate private contractor hired by FEMA.

In this case it's likely someone stole Veronica's ID and is using it to file a bogus property damage claim.

FEMA confirms the ID theft along with con artists filing bogus damage claims are among the top fraud cases they're dealing with right now.

Lessons learned from Katrina forced FEMA to suree up leaks in the claims system. But that won't put a stop to rampant ID theft and the attempts to get a piece of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

Anyone caught filing a bogus claim or a claim in another person's name could face $25,000 in fines and/or a maximum of 30 years in jail.

Here are resources to report fraud:

Contact the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at
800-323-8603, TTY 844-889-4357.

A fraud complaint may also be completed online at the OIG’s website, faxed to 202-254-4297 or mailed to: DHS Office of Inspector General: Mail Stop 0305; Department of Homeland Security; 245 Murray Drive SW; Washington DC 20528-0305.

Survivors can also call FEMA’s Office of the Chief Security Officer (OCSO) Tip line at 866-223-0814 or email to FEMA-OCSO-Tipline@fema.dhs.gov.

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