Why is this important to me?
When a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy occurs, there is an outpouring of relief from Americans who want to help. And they become easily vulnerable to fraud.
Prosecutors and regulators are warning the public to be on the look out for scammers. The U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud urged the public on Friday to report potential scams to the NCDF’s hotline at 866-720-5721 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NCDF, which acts as a clearinghouse for disaster relief fraud, was established in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. More than 20 federal agencies participate in its efforts.
The Securities and Exchange Commission also has issued an alert for investors to be wary of potential investment scams, particularly those receiving lump sum insurance payouts.
Prosecutors and regulators are warning the public to watch out for unsolicited emails on disaster relief and to be cautious of individuals who represent themselves as victims or officials asking for donations by email or social-networking sites.
They also urged consumers not to share their personal or financial information with persons soliciting contributions and to avoid cash donations.
The SEC has additional information on how investors can protect themselves against scams here. Individuals also can report suspicious email solicitations and fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center here.