FEMA: Floridians Making False FEMA Claims Take Money From Those In Need

By on November 3, 2017 in WNDB News

Florida – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants to remind Floridians that making fraudulent disaster assistance claims is a felony, and those who make false claims are taking money away from those who have legitimate claims.

As some Floridians are still recovering from Hurricane Irma, FEMA says that it takes the disbursement of disaster funds very seriously, and the agency wants to make sure the assistance money only goes to those who suffered legitimate losses. Those who are caught trying to make fraudulent claims can be charged with a felony and, if convicted, may face a maximum 30-year prison term and up to $250,000 in fines.

Special agents from the Office of the Inspector General detect fraud in a number of ways. An automated system cross-checks information with other agencies and insurance companies to weed out duplicate applications. Field inspections are also conducted to verify losses and damages for every person who applies to FEMA for individual assistance.

Potential cases of fraud or misuse are referred for prosecution as federal offenses. Audits are standard procedure in all federal disaster operations, and the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutes these types of fraud cases when they result in criminal charges.

Any applicant who has made a mistake when reporting damage or has misrepresented losses has the opportunity to correct or cancel their claim. Anyone wishing to amend disaster claims should call the FEMA Helpline (800-621-3362) for voice or 711 VRS, or 800-662-7585 for TTY to withdraw or correct an application and prevent prosecution.

If you suspect someone has filed a false claim with FEMA, you can report it through the following methods:

  • 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) Tipline at 866-223-0814 or email to FEMA-OCSO-Tipline@fema.dhs.gov.

Calls may be answered by a recorded message. The caller will be asked a few questions. The information will be entered into the data system and assigned to a field investigator. If the caller left a name and phone number, it will be the investigator who will call back, not the person who took the call. An inspector has 90 days to verify the complaint.

For more recovery information, visit www.FEMA.gov/IrmaFL, or follow @FEMARegion4 on Twitter and on FEMA’s Facebook page.

Photo courtesy Mike Focus and Shutterstock.com.

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2017.

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