Multiple fraudulent FEMA claims filed in Assumption Parish, deputies say
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It started with several people concerned about a man approaching them asking about their FEMA claims. Saying he would not provide his last name and was giving them a number to call that would ask for their personal info. What we ended up finding out was most of these people never even filed a claim in the first place.
With fraudulent FEMA claims becoming more common, people in Assumption Parish were quick to alert authorities about a man by the name of Larry going door-to-door asking about their claims and giving a number to call. He identified himself as a FEMA worker but residents there were worried he was a fake.
“The concern came about with a couple of issues, Larry wouldn’t not provide his last name and also some people when that number was called were asked for their social security number,” said Capt. Lonnie Cavalier with Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office.
After further investigation, detectives discovered the man was legitimate. They also found out something else they didn’t expect. Most of the claims the FEMA worker was asking about were filed fraudulently by someone other than the property owner.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to has told me they never filed a claim,” Cavalier explained.
Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office says they are seeing cases of stolen claims far too often.
“Just this year I think we had 64 additional scams identified than we did last year,” said Cavalier.
We wanted to know where cases such as these end up once they are investigated.
“It depends on a number of things. Where things are happening and how things are happening. That’s why the National Center for Disaster Fraud is a good resource and number to call because they compile all of that information and shoot it out to the appropriate agency,” said Cory Dennis with the Attorney General’s Office.
We also wanted to know what the Attorney General’s Office is looking at doing to get these stolen FEMA accounts back in the hands of the rightful person.
“People are getting smarter criminals will get smarter and adapt to different scenarios but again, General Landry is always putting out warnings to folks before storms, after storms. At least just to be aware that scams are out there, bad actors are out there,” Dennis continued.
Authorities tell us what folks need to be on the lookout for when approached by someone who says they are with FEMA.
“Do not provide any identification, do not answer any questions concerning your personal information, contact us immediately and if you have any reservations whatsoever call our office here,” said Cavalier.
FEMA urges anyone worried about their claim or their personal information to contact the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362. The number for the National Center for Disaster Fraud is 1-866-720-5721.
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