OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Individuals with disaster-related damage and losses can be assured if they qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management (ODCEM), they will receive help.
State Coordinating Officer Fred Liebe emphasized the primary concern during a disaster is for the recovery of its victims. "People who intentionally try to defraud the government are taking money away from those who are truly in need," he said.
"We have an obligation to make sure taxpayer dollars go only to those people who sustained legitimate losses," Federal Coordinating Officer Robert E. Hendrix said. "We are also obligated to prosecute anyone who makes a fraudulent claim."
The FEMA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) uses several methods to identify the very small percentage of applicants who make fraudulent disaster claims, including automated information cross-checking with other agencies and insurance companies to weed out duplicate applications. Also, field inspectors verify every applicant's damage and losses. Ultimately, potential cases of fraud or misuse are referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution.
Individuals who have made a mistake when reporting damage or who have misrepresented their losses may correct the situation immediately by calling the toll-free FEMA Helpline at 800-525-0321, 800-660-8005 (TTY). Both lines are open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
In addition, anyone with information about individuals who may have defrauded the government in connection with the May 3-5 tornadoes, severe storms and flooding or any other disaster is encouraged to call the FEMA Fraud Hotline at 800-323-8603.