In wake of ice storm, watch out for FEMA scam

Apr. 24, 2014 @ 08:06 AM

As is too often the case in the wake of a natural disaster, area residents still recovering from the March 7 ice storm are being asked to watch out for a scam.

This one involves con artists who are posing at Federal Emergency Management Agency workers supposedly making damage assessments at houses. Once inside, one con artist distracts a homeowner with questions while others pilfer valuables.
Earlier this month, the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office reported thieves posed as FEMA agents in order to rob residents. 
“While North Carolina Emergency Management and FEMA are working with local officials to help several Triad communities recover from recent winter storms, there are no state or federal emergency management personnel working with individuals or business owners who incurred damage from the recent storms,” said state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.
If someone is approached by con artists claiming to be FEMA agents, ignore their request and alert local law enforcement.
Last month, Gov. Pat McCrory applied for and received federal financial assistance to help nine central North Carolina counties recover some of the costs associated with the ice storm. The area covered includes Davidson, Guilford and Randolph counties.
Emergency management officials warn that con artists may take advantage of the recovery period by pretending to be employed by FEMA, other government agencies or public utilities.
“By going door-to-door or by phone or on the Internet, con artists may try to obtain personal information such as Social Security and bank account numbers, or, as in the Rockingham County reports, to rob a homeowner,” according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety.
Emergency officials say a FEMA shirt or jacket “is not absolute proof of someone’s affiliation with the agency. All authorized FEMA personnel display a laminated photo identification card, which they are required to wear at all times.”