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U.S. Attorney’s Office Wants You To Be On The Lookout For Disaster Fraud in The Virgin Islands In The Wake Of Hurricanes Irma and Maria

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – Acting United States Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett is urging Virgin Islands’ residents to be aware of, and report suspected fraudulent activity related to hurricane relief operations and federal funding for hurricane victims.

In the wake of the destruction wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, millions of dollars in federal aid and loans have been approved for Virgin Islands’ residents. As of November 29, 2017, FEMA has approved over $27 million in
Individual Assistance claims, and the Small Business Administration has approved over $61 million in loans for homeowners and $10 million for business owners.

“We have adopted a zero tolerance policy for disaster-related fraud,” Hewlett said. “Individuals, families, and businesses have suffered tremendous losses and need these funds to get back on their feet. If you suspect fraud, please call the National Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free number at (866) 720-5721. We don’t want anyone to become a double victim – a hurricane victim and a fraud victim as well.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has a Disaster Fraud Task Force comprised of federal and February 2 territorial investigators and prosecutors ready to respond to credible allegations of fraud and abuse.

The National Disaster Fraud Hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Reports of fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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