MORGAN CITY, La. — Police say they’ve received more than 20 calls in the last couple of days related to fake FEMA claims after Hurricane Ida.
Scammers are filing damage reports following the storm using other people’s addresses and information.
“We’ve received numerous calls about people, a FEMA representative comes to people’s homes asking to inspect their home, their property for claims they’ve made on damage on their homes,” said Capt. Betty Augman with MCPD. “And once the FEMA representative gets there, the residents are saying, ‘We’ve never made those claims...’,”
That’s exactly what happened to Chantelle Evans from Patterson. She says she feels in shock after being told her information was used to make fraudulent claims.
"Because that means my information is out, you know, all over the internet, obviously, for somebody to be able to get it,” said Evans.
Social media posts show people getting notes from FEMA saying they visited the home for an inspection, but people posting didn’t file a claim.
Evans says her home had minor damage from Hurricane Ida, so when she was approached by an inspector she immediately called FEMA’s fraud hotline "to find out if it was true, and it was. And got it taken care of,” she said.
Both local law enforcement and FEMA say if this happens to you, that’s the smart thing to do.
“Talk to someone on the phone and explain the situation to them," said Patrick Boland with FEMA. “Definitely call the police, though. It’s not a 911 call, but it’s close.”
He says it’s also important to know who’s coming to do the inspection of your home.
“One of the big scams is people walking around claiming to be FEMA representatives, they say they represent FEMA. If they do, they have a picture ID that everyone in FEMA carries, and FEMA representatives will usually travel in teams,” he explained.
FEMA says aside from this type of fraud where people file damage reports on your behalf, you should also beware if contractors claiming to be with the agency ask for a down payment on the spot, especially on the street.
Plus, make sure you don’t give confidential information, like your social security number, to people you don’t trust.
Those who are caught making fraudulent claims can be charged with a felony. If convicted, they could face a maximum 30-year prison term and up to $250,000 in fines, according to FEMA.
FEMA's fraud hotline is 1-866-223-0814 and their email of StopFEMAFraud@fema.dhs.gov, click here.
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