Chillicothe, OH -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Ohio EMA) have a system in place to identify the very small percentage of applicants who try to cash in on others' misfortune during the disaster recovery process.
"Managing a multi-million-dollar disaster program always means walking a fine line between speedy service to those who need it and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are not misused," Dale Shipley, Ohio EMA state coordinating officer, said.
According to Ron Sherman, FEMA's federal coordinating officer, a number of methods are used to detect fraud. An automated system crosschecks information with other agencies and applicants are asked about insurance coverage to weed out duplication of benefits. Field inspections are conducted to verify losses and damages for every person who applies. Potential cases of fraud or misuse are referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution.
People who have made a mistake when reporting damage or have misrepresented their losses have the opportunity to cancel or amend their claim. Individuals may call the toll-free application number, 1-800-621-FEMA (TTY 1-800-462-7585) to withdraw or correct an application and prevent prosecution.
If you know of someone who is taking advantage of others' misfortune by filing false damage claims, you may report this or other instances of fraud to the Fraud Hotline at 1-800-323-8603.