Following the extreme devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) today issued a reminder that, as with any major disaster, there are unscrupulous thieves trying to exploit the environment to line their own pockets.
“Scammers targeting individuals already suffering the effects of Hurricane Ian are despicable and an inexcusable crime,” said US Attorney Ronald C. Gathe Jr., who serves as Executive Director of the NCDF. “We’re still in hurricane season and it’s important that people keep an eye out for scammers trying to profit from natural disasters through identity theft and advertising fake charities. This is especially true for the citizens of Florida, South Carolina and other states affected by Ian. The Department of Justice, through the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in every state and territory of the United States, is committed to exposing this type of fraud and will aggressively pursue perpetrators.”
The NCDF, a national coordinating body, was established by a partnership between the Department of Justice and various law enforcement and regulatory agencies. Its purpose is to improve and advance the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of fraud related to natural and man-made disasters and to advocate for the victims of such fraud.
In the wake of Hurricane Ian, there is no sign that criminals will slow down their efforts to commit fraud against those who have already been victims of the storm. The following examples of disaster-related fraud are based on over 200,000 historical complaints filed with the NCDF:
Fake charities that solicit donations immediately using the names of well-known charities or appear reasonable in the context of a disaster
People posing as government officials and insurance company representatives indicating that disaster relief will be provided should the potential victim provide an amount of money…