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FEMA Fraud Criminal Defense Lawyers

March 21, 2024

When there is any kind of natural disaster, FEMA often assists the people who are impacted until they are able to get back on their feet. FEMA workers help to provide shelter, food, clothing, and other basic necessities that are not available after a disaster. Financial assistance is also available, but there is an application process that people have to complete if they believe that they are eligible for the assistance.

There are numerous cases of fraud after FEMA workers step in to offer help. Many people file claims that aren’t true in order to get money and other assistance from FEMA. Workers understand that sifting through false reports does take time away from the people who truly need help, which is why the government is cracking down on applications that are turned in while still trying to ensure that the people who truly need help receive what FEMA offers. Money from taxpayers supports FEMA, and if fraud continues in the system, then it begins to impact the everyday citizens who are only trying to do their part and pay their taxes.

Unfortunately, there are numerous types of FEMA fraud that one must consider instead of just falsifying documents to obtain assistance. If you have been charged with fraud, then you need to seek the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible as there could have been something innocently left off of your application or an error when processing the paperwork that is of no fault of your own. However, if you know that you falsified information on the application, then you will likely be charged and still need the assistance of an attorney who can defend your case in court.

Aside from entering false information on FEMA forms to try to get assistance, fraud can involve those who contact victims of disasters to get personal and financial information to then turn around and use it for their benefit. There are also charity scams that run rampant after a natural disaster. Someone might set up a fund and claim that the money will go to FEMA or to help with expenses only to keep the money for themselves. Insurance scams are also types of fraud that can take place as some companies will make reports to FEMA of assistance that is needed or exaggerating the amount that is needed in order to repair a structure or to get a new home.

Charity scams sometimes aren’t related to FEMA, but if it’s after a natural disaster, then it can be considered a fraudulent act to the government agency. Someone would file a claim stating that they are a victim of a natural disaster and have been displaced from their home. The person might take pictures of an area that has been impacted by a natural disaster as well as a home that was destroyed to say that it was their home in order to get money from government agencies or from people who want to donate money to help. Criminals will sometimes go to homes or businesses, send emails, or make phone calls to try to get money from people as well.

Since FEMA is a government agency, then the charges are considered federal instead of a misdemeanor or felony. It might take a few years for someone to get caught, but there will usually be something that turns up on an application or something that someone tells the agency that will lead to an investigation and charges for the person who committed fraud. Penalties can range from years in prison to restitution, which is money that is paid back to the agency or the people who the person took money from when the act was committed. Several factors come into play when the court makes a decision regarding the punishment of someone who has committed FEMA fraud. The amount of money, as well as the criminal history of the person, are taken into consideration as well as the method used to get the money. It’s important to keep any and all documents associated with FEMA and asking for assistance, presenting the information to an attorney if you are charged with fraud. The court and your attorney will examine the evidence to determine if any fraudulent acts took place and what the punishment should be concerning the charges.

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Todd Spodek

Founding Partner

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RALPH P. FRANCHO, JR

Associate

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JEREMY FEIGENBAUM

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ELIZABETH GARVEY

Associate

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CLAIRE BANKS

Associate

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RAJESH BARUA

Of-Counsel

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CHAD LEWIN

Of-Counsel

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