Organizations warn against disaster fraud after wildfires | TheUnion.com

Organizations warn against disaster fraud after wildfires

Submitted to The Union

OROVILLE — U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott and Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey joined forces to raise public awareness of the potential for fraud in the wake of the Camp Fire, according to a release.

The public is urged to be on guard against fraudulent activity relating to recovery and cleanup operations, fake charities claiming to provide relief for victims, individuals submitting false claims for disaster relief, and any other disaster fraud related activity.

“While most people respond to tragic events like the Camp Fire with compassion and generosity, others take advantage of such disasters to fraudulently enrich themselves,” Scott stated in the release. “I strongly encourage the public to be on the lookout for any fraudulent activity occurring in the aftermath of our state’s most devastating wildfire. With the combined resources of federal and local law enforcement, we will aggressively pursue and prosecute fraud and abuse.”

Members of the public are reminded to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before trusting anyone purporting to be working on behalf of disaster victims, and to be especially cautious of anyone who contacts you seeking personal identifying information or financial information.

“There has been a tremendous outpouring of generosity towards our victims of the Camp Fire,” Ramsey said in the release. “We all know of a friend or family member that was personally affected by this disaster. We cannot allow those with less generous spirits dampen our desire to rebuild our community stronger and better. With the help of our federal partners, we will protect our community from these predators.”

Members of the public who suspect fraud involving disaster relief efforts, or who believe that they have been the victim of fraud from a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of disaster victims, should contact the National Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at 866-720-5721. The telephone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week or email disaster@leo.gov.

The U.S. Department of Justice established the National Center for Disaster Fraud to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast region.

Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or manmade disaster. More than 20 federal, state, and local agencies participate in the center, which allows it to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.

Source: United States Department of Justice


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