KSP: Scam artists posing as FEMA, Red Cross, other disaster relief workers on the ground in tornado-ravaged areas


Only a few days after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron warned tornado victims to beware of scam artists posing as contractors, Kentucky State Police said troopers have received “several complaints in reference to fraudulent disaster relief workers.”

“These individuals may be posing as FEMA representatives, American Red Cross workers, insurance adjusters, contractors for debris removal, or general contractors,” state police said.

While there are reports of fraudulent workers, KSP said there are also legitimate FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams, housing inspectors, and other officials working in areas impacted by the deadly storms. Legitimate FEMA representatives carry official identification badges with photo IDs and will also have your FEMA application number.

FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration representatives never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections, or help with filling out applications for federal assistance. FEMA representatives will never promise a disaster grant in return for payment and are never authorized to collect your personal financial information.

Kentucky State Police received information from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB)to help those impacted by the tornadoes ensure they are utilizing legitimate contractors for cleanup and repair. Should homeowners suspect fraud during the rebuilding process, they should contact their insurer, local law enforcement, and the NICB (1-800-TEL-NICB).

Some tips to avoid contractor fraud, provided by the NICB, include:

  • Get more than one estimate. Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
  • Work only with licensed and insured contractors.
  • Demand references and check them.
  • Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the driver’s license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.
  • Get a contract in writing. This should include cost, time schedules, payment schedules, guarantees, work to be done, and other expectations that should be detailed.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks as these could be filled in later without your knowledge.
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is done and ensure reconstruction is up to current code.

In addition to the reports of fraudulent disaster relief workers, there have also been several reports of looting and thefts in the affected areas as well. If anyone observes looters removing items from properties where they do not belong, contact law enforcement.

Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky National Guard, and local law enforcement are providing saturated patrols in these areas to fend off this criminal activity.

You can report suspicious individuals or activity to Kentucky State Police at 270-856-3721.

(Photo courtesy of Fox Carolina)

By Ken Howlett, News Director

Contact Ken at ken@k105.com