March 11, 2010
WASHINGTON (RPRN) 03/11/10 — Shortly after the earthquake in Haiti last January, the FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) established a telephone hotline to report suspected fraud associated with relief efforts. That number, (866) 720-5721, was initially staffed for the purpose of reporting suspected scams being perpetrated by criminals in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. Since then, with the recent earthquake in Chile, our efforts have expanded to identify similar fraud activity emerging from that disaster. Therefore, the public is encouraged to call this same number—(866) 720-5721—to report suspected fraud from either disaster. The telephone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, e-mail information can be directly sent to email@example.com.
The National Center for Disaster Fraud was originally established by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast region. Now, its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or manmade disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI, participate in the NCDF, allowing the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to Haitian or Chilean relief fraud.
The FBI continues to remind the public to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of Haitian or Chilean victims. Solicitations can originate from e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings and telephone calls, and similar methods.
Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of Haitian or Chilean earthquake victims, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721. You can fax information to (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
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