BALTIMORE, MD—As assessment of the damage caused by Hurricane lan begins, the FBI Baltimore Division is warning the public about the potential for hurricane-related fraud. Authorities say hurricane or natural disaster damage often provides opportunities for criminals to scam storm victims and those who are assisting victims with recovery.
Consumers should be aware of scammers posing as representatives of charities seeking donations for disaster relief. Only donate to reputable charities and never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails. Be sure to make donations using a check or credit card. If a charity or organization asks for a donation via cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer, it is likely a scam.
Scammers may also call, text, mail, or email with promises to quickly provide aid. Do not give out personal information without confirming the legitimacy of the person calling and the agency itself. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says officials with government disaster assistance agencies do not call or text asking for financial information, and there is no fee required to apply for assistance.
Anyone who has been a victim of hurricane-related fraud is advised to contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) at 1-866-720-5721 or file a complaint online. Suspicious email solicitations or fraudulent websites can also be reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://www.ic3.gov.