Disaster Relief Fraud

Disaster Relief Fraud

Parts of the southern United States and island territories were battered during 2017 by Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, Jose, and Maria, with over a hundred lives lost and many billion dollars in damages. Climate change scientists predict that deadly storms will become from frequent and more intense. Sadly, the damage inflicted by man and Mother Nature is only the beginning of the trials people in affected regions face in such disasters. Individuals and companies often flock to disaster relief areas after a catastrophe just to bilk victims and state and federal governments by accepting public dollars meant for alleviating suffering but delivering substandard or nonexistent goods and services.

The federal government spends billions to assist with recovery from natural and man-made disasters. If you are aware of fraud being committed by contractors or organizations in connection with disaster relief, the whistleblower attorneys at Kreindler & Associates are here to work with you in reporting such fraud and obtaining any whistleblower reward that might be due to you.

Common Forms of Disaster Relief Fraud

The federal government is serious about pursuing those who seek to profit illegally from the carnage caused by man-made and natural disasters. In connection with Hurricane Katrina alone, federal prosecutors charged over 1,300 disaster fraud cases in 49 different districts.  The below examples include reported estimated damage and fatality information:

  • Hurricane Katrina (2005):  $108 billion in damages, over 1,800 fatalities.
  • Hurricane Rita (2005):   $10 billion in damages, 120 fatalities.
  • Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill (2010):  $60 billion in damages, 4 fatalities.
  • Haiti Earthquake (2010):  250K homes destroyed, 100,000 fatalities.   
  • Hurricane Sandy (2012):  $75 billion in damages, 147 fatalities.
  • Hurricane Matthew (2016):  $15 billion in damages, 49 fatalities.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when many billions of dollars of federal aid poured into the Gulf Region, the federal government set in place the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) to combat the wide-ranging fraud that was being perpetrated by contractors engaging in systemic fraud.

If you have suffered fraud personally at the hands of unscrupulous contractors, you can contact the NCDF (disaster@leo.gov or 866.720.5721) to make a report.

If you are aware of contractors who are misuing government funds, then we recommend considering an action under the False Claims Act. Common forms of disaster relief government fraud include:

  • Delivering services that are subpar or not in line with what was billed to the government
  • Providing goods (food, shelter, medical supplies, etc.) that are worth less than what was billed or reimbursed
  • Failing to provide promised goods or services
  • Upcharging the government for goods or services without authorization
  • Billing for hours or goods in excess of what was provided

Such practices can form the basis of a False Claims Act (FCA) claim against the fraudulent contractors. Whistleblowers who participate in bringing a successful FCA claim are eligible to receive between 15% and 30% of the funds recovered by the federal government in an FCA action.

 

Pursuing a Disaster Relief Whistleblower Award

If you have information relating to fraud being committed by contractors against the U.S. government, you may be eligible for a significant FCA whistleblower award by bringing this information forward to the government. At Kreindler & Associates, we provide comprehensive guidance for potential whistleblowers throughout the entire process of bringing your claim forward. Our experienced whistleblower attorneys will work with you every step of the way to determine your appropriate course of action, protect you from retaliation, and collect your much-deserved reward. If you suspect that someone is committing fraud against the U.S. government by collecting federal or state funds, contact us today for an evaluation of your allegations.