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Combating Disaster Fraud

National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline

There is a sort of criminal cottage industry that crops up when disasters go down. 

And there are task forces are made up of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to fight illegal activity following Hurricane Irma.

They include the National Center for Disaster Fraud and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Middle District of Florida, based in Tampa.

Spokesman William Daniels explains the kinds of crimes they’re looking for, such as: "fake charities, or people claiming to be providing relief for victims when they're not. On a broader, larger scale, the types of assistance being offered to these individuals. Well, sometimes people submit claims for disaster relief, when there are no actual claims,” he said.

The National Center for Disaster Fraud has already taken hundreds of complaints following Harvey and Irma about identity theft and people impersonating federal law enforcement officials.

The Acting Executive Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud, Corey R. Amundson, said criminals are exploiting disasters by “sending fraudulent communications through email or social media by creating phony websites designed to solicit contributions."

More than 30 federal, state and local agencies participate in the National Center for Disaster Fraud, which serves as a "centralized clearinghouse" of information related to disaster fraud.  

Its toll free hotline is (866) 720-5721. If you suspect price gouging in Florida, you can contact the office of State Attorney General Pam Bondi at (866)-9-NO-SCAM. 

I love telling stories about my home state. And I hope they will help you in some way and maybe even lift your spirits.