WASHINGTON, D.C. (WBRC) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday that an existing fraud tip line is now accepting information from the public about suspected fraud associated with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The FBI, in a statement Tuesday to FOX6 News, said tips should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud, (866) 720-5721. The line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, e-mails can be sent to email@example.com or information can be faxed to (225) 334-4707.
The FBI said fraudulent activity can take many forms. For example, individuals may claim to be raising money for environmental causes or offer fraudulent services pertaining to the oil spill, such as remediation services. Others may submit false insurance claims for property damage.
The FBI said it created the National Center for Disaster Fraud to investigate, prosecute and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast region. Now, its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI, participate in the NCDF, which allows the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.
The FBI released the following suggestions for people to consider before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations or individuals offering to provide environmental remediation services:
Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages because they may contain computer viruses.
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as members of environmental organizations or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
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