If history is any indication, storm-related fraud will spike after vulnerable victims begin to receive millions of dollars in FEMA aid in the coming months and years. Here is what to look-out for and where to turn for help.
Today acting District Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Stephen Muldrow announced the formation of a disaster fraud task force.
Based on what happened after Katrina, people attempting to steal FEMA money through pretending to be storm victims will be the top cons. Thieves impersonating FEMA workers and inspectors will be another. And Red Cross donation fraud is also predicted to be a problem.
Here's how to report it: E-mail the disaster fraud task force at email@example.com or call the disaster fraud hotline at 866.720.5721.
The head of the National Center for Disaster Fraud says this is also the time for storm victims to be on guard against ID theft. Fraudsters will claim to be people they are not and steal people's identity to make claims on legitimately damaged homes.
The federal task force is separate from Florida's Attorney General price gouging hotline. Victims are encouraged to report fraud to both.
The AG hotline is 866-9-NO-SCAM. So far the AG's office has been hit with 10,000 complaints and if Katrina is any indication the fraud reports will spike as FEMA assistance pours in the coming months and for up to the next decade.