Most Fast-Acting Scam of 2017: Disaster Fraud

This past August and September were a whirlwind (literally and figuratively) for victims in Texas and Florida who were hit hard by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. As families began to put the pieces back together of what they use to call home, they were blindsided by another storm, a storm we’ve dubbed the most Fast-Acting Scam of 2017, Disaster Fraud Scammers.

Not given a chance to take one sigh of relief that the worse was over, victims were being bombarded with calls from so-called insurance companies attempting to collect overdue flood insurance premiums.

The Washington Post reported, “The Texas attorney general’s office said that it has received more than 3,200 complaints about scams, fraud and price gouging since Aug. 25, for things such as $99 for a case of water. In Baton Rouge, where the National Disaster Fraud Center is located, the number of fraud reports went from 79 the week before Hurricane Harvey to 425 in the week after the storm hit, center director and U.S. Attorney Corey R. Amundson said.”

Unfortunately, the fraudulent schemes didn’t stop there, but Texans were helpful in warning residents of Florida in the line of Hurricane Irma of what may come.

But disasters aren’t always predictable and not everyone gets a warning of what scams could come there way. So here are a few other disaster fraud scams that come along with property insurance fraud that anyone should be ready for in case disaster hits:

Charitable Solicitations: Scammers posing as legitimate organizations that claim to help raise funds for disaster victims. This is a ploy to trick victims into handing over personal information or financial information such as credit card numbers.

Contractor and Vendor Fraud: “So-called” contractors or repairmen who claim to have expertise in repairing damages victims of disaster have endured, but unfortunately the scammers have no intention to ever complete the job once they’ve collected deposits or credit card information.

Price Gouging: Businesses who take advantage of victims after disasters and increase the price of items that are high in demand or limited in supply (i.e. groceries, emergency supplies etc.)

Forgery: Stealing mail and claiming it as their own is an easy way for scammers to grab fast cash. Their techniques to swipe a victim’s mail range from reimbursement checks, submission of false building permits, receipts for claims, forged insurance and federal emergency assistance checks and fraudulent damage reports.

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