The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a government entity designed to aid and assist areas affected by natural disaster. These efforts might include anything from providing temporary shelter for anyone left homeless in the wake of a natural disaster to providing financial help to those in need following a natural disaster. FEMA is among the first to respond to any location affected by a hurricane, mudslide, tornado, earthquake, or any other natural disaster, and many people owe the federal agency their debt of gratitude.
FEMA fraud is common following a natural disaster. Easily defined as the act of filing false claims through FEMA in an attempt to secure funding or other benefits free of charge from the federal government, it’s fraudulent. One of the biggest concerns regarding FEMA fraud is the fact anyone submitting false applications is taking help from those who need it most. FEMA is funded by taxpayer dollars, and fraud in this department has a ripple effect on everyone who pays taxes and/or finds it necessary to seek help from the federal government.
Examples of FEMA Fraud
FEMA Fraud is any fraudulent activity associated with the government entity. It’s not limited to just those who file false claims in an effort to secure financial help. It also encompasses those who spend time contacting potential disaster victims fraudulently on behalf of FEMA to secure personal and financial information. These scams are common following disasters.
– Plans to defraud
– Charity scams
– Insurance scams
– Criminal impersonation
When a person conducts a charity scam, it might not seem at all related to FEMA, but it does fall under the category of FEMA fraud. This occurs when a person falsely claims to have been a victim of a natural disaster and creates a fake charity account to solicit donations from those willing to help. An example of this type of fraud is a person who takes photos of a home destroyed in a natural disaster and uses them to create a falsified charity account such as a GoFundMe account to accept donations to rebuild. With the prevalence of social media, this is more common than not. This type of scam could also entail criminals soliciting donations by phone, email, or door-to-door by impersonating representatives from a well-known charity. This becomes criminal impersonation.
Insurance scams are easily defined as the attempt to defraud an insurance company by requesting a payout that is not owed to a person through fraudulent means. Anyone who plans to defraud the government for financial gain is considered guilty of FEMA fraud.
FEMA Fraud Charges
The law states FEMA fraud is considered a government issue. Federal prosecution is used to assist in cases like these, and FEMA wants to prosecute anyone accused of defrauding their system. Even when a criminal thinks they’ve gotten away with fraud, it might be years before their application is flagged for follow-up. The penalties for this type of fraud are vast, and range from anything from restitution to prison time.
The amount of money stolen, the severity of the claim, and the methods used to commit fraud are used to determine the amount of time or money the defendant is forced to surrender when accused of FEMA fraud. Federal judges also consider the defendant’s past criminal record to determine whether criminal activity is a way of life or a one-time deal.
Anyone accused of FEMA fraud should contact a criminal defense attorney with experience and dedication to the job right away. Since these fraudulent charges are typically brought up years after the alleged fraud is committed, many defendants no longer have the proper paperwork and evidence to prove their own case readily available. An attorney with experience in the law of fraud can help prove your case, disprove the case brought to light by the prosecutor, as well as examine all the laws that have been broken to assist in appropriating the charges.
FEMA’s association with the federal government makes tampering with their system a federal crime, and felony charges are typically presented. Felony charges often prevent a person from leaving jail and finding work, a home, or income. Don’t let this affect your life. Hire an attorney today.