FEMA is looking into cases of potential fraud following Hurricane Irma, specifically people claiming someone else used their social security number and birthday to file for financial help after the hurricane.
Alan Sayler, a Pinellas Park business owner says that's exactly what happened to him. “I thought what in the world is going on here?," Sayler said puzzled.
On Saturday, he received a letter in the mail confirming his registration with FEMA for disaster relief. The letter, from the Small Business Association, informed him of small business disaster loans to facilitate his claim with FEMA.
The problem? “I did not file with them, I do not intend to file with them. It was very, very frustrating."
He immediately called up the SBA who told him someone used his birth date and social security number to apply for help.
“To find that someone is out there throwing that around is very concerning,” Sayler elaborated.
He immediately called FEMA and 5 days later is still waiting to talk to a real person about the fraud.
“I feel like I’ve been running in circles.”
A dozen emails and more than 3 hours on the phone later, he called ABC Action News
We got in touch with FEMA and found out Sayler isn’t alone. They’re looking into several cases of fraud.
That’s where Sayler’s story gets even stranger. A few days ago someone left a pink post-it note scribbled with a first name, phone number and the word FEMA on the front door of his home. Sayler called and started asking questions. “I said do you have an employee id number? She said I’ve gotta take another call. Goodbye.”
Leaving him with even more questions, and wondering how many people are abusing his personal information.
“I would really like FEMA to get back to me and let me know who filed this claim?”
Fema tells us they’re looking into every case of fraud, but it could take awhile with 2.6 million people filing for help. In the meantime, they’re adding extra security members to make sure only the correct people get help.
If you think someone has fraudulently filed a claim in your name, you should email: Disaster@leo.gov. You can also call the Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721.