New Castle, DE - Fraud is an unfortunate occurrence during disaster recovery. When it does happen, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a responsibility to take action. People who intentionally try to defraud the government are taking money away from those who are truly in need, and FEMA is obligated to make sure taxpayer dollars go only to people who sustained legitimate losses.
"Managing a 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 Michael Hall, FEMA federal coordinating officer.
A number of methods are used by FEMA to detect fraud. An automated system crosschecks information with other agencies and insurance companies to weed out duplicate applications. Field inspections are then conducted to verify losses and damages. Other audits of applicant's expenditures of FEMA funded aid are also conducted over a three year period. Making false statements to FEMA is a prosecutable offense under Title 18 of the United States Code.
People who made a mistake when reporting damage or who have misrepresented their losses have the opportunity to cancel their claim. Individuals may call the registration/helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to withdraw or correct an application.
Anyone who knows of someone who filed false damage claims, falsified receipts or received offers by contractors to provide false bills, may report the incident to the Department of Homeland Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-323-8603
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.