Mesa, AZ -- The Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today issued a reminder that aggressive action will be taken against any criminal attempt to defraud the federal government in connection with victims of the Rodeo-Chediski fire.
"Managing a multi-million dollar disaster program always means walking a fine line between bringing speedy service to those who need it and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are not misused," said ADEM Director Michael P. Austin.
FEMA uses a number of methods to detect fraud. An automated system cross-checks information with other agencies and insurance companies to weed out duplicate applications. Also field inspections are conducted to verify losses and damages.
Making false statements to a FEMA inspector is itself a prosecutable offense under Title 18 of the United States Code. Potential cases of fraud or misuse are referred to the U.S. Justice Department for prosecution. Penalties for felony offenses can be severe.
People who made a mistake when reporting damage or may have misrepresented their losses have the opportunity to cancel their claim. Individuals may call the Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or for the hearing or speech-impaired TTY: 1-800-462-7585 to withdraw or correct an application and prevent prosecution.
Anyone who knows of someone who has filed false damage claims or perpetrated any other disaster-related fraud may report the incident to the Fraud Hotline at 1-800-323-8603. All reports of fraud will be investigated by FEMA's Office of Inspector General.
The Arizona Division of Emergency Management coordinates emergency services and the efforts of governmental agencies to reduce the impact of disasters on persons and property through disaster mitigation programs and the coordination of federal, state and local government agencies to respond to, and recover from, disasters through training and emergency response planning.
FEMA is the federal agency that coordinates response efforts to federal disasters. The agency's 10 regional offices work directly with the states to help plan for disasters, develop mitigation programs and meet needs when disasters occur. FEMA Region IX serves the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada, as well as the territories of American Samoa and Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia