Scammers try to cash in on Harvey disaster

First, it was fake FEMA workers. Now, we are hearing about people trying to pull a fast one on FEMA.

HOUSTON - Disaster recovery centers are still seeing hundreds of people come in for assistance. The vast majority are legitimate flood victims, but crooks see are finding opportunity in their misery.

KHOU 11 reported on fake FEMA inspectors knocking on doors in some areas that didn't even flood. A viewer later sent a photo of a woman she said was going house to house in her neighborhood asking questions that caused concern.

"Unfortunately, it happens a lot after disasters," says Peter Herrick Jr. with FEMA. "The larger scale, the more confusion and stuff, the easier it is"

FEMA says, in some cases, actual employees may visit a home based on fraudulently submitted information.

"Someone else, not the homeowner or someone in that home, has filed using personal information in order to get access to that $500 critical need assistance," said Herrick. 

Elaborate scams may take longer to rectify, but potential victims are the first line of defense in most cases.

"If someone comes out to you and claims to be from FEMA and something doesn't feel right -- they can't provide an ID, they don't know your case number, something doesn't feel right -- end the conversation," said Herrick. 

FEMA has a fraud hotline you can call with any concerns. Officials suggest you follow up with local law enforcement as well.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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