ST. MARTIN PARISH, La. (KLFY) – Authorities in St. Martin Parish say they believe there could be several cases of identity theft in the parish, in order for scammers to file fake FEMA claims.
“My understanding is that they would’ve needed our social, and our address to do that,” said River Scrantz, of Grand Anse. “They had a fake email completely made up, but using our name, and a fake phone number.”
Contractors from FEMA are canvassing the parish, trying to confirm whether a real claim for benefits was made or not. St. Martin Parish sustained little, if any, damage from Hurricane Ida.
“I think its pretty messed up if you’re trying to get a FEMA claim off of somebody. In case someone does have damage, if you’re trying to take their money from them, that’s not right,” said Scrantz.
“They gain their personal information to claim they have damages at their house. In fact, one our deputies had someone claim on her information, and made a FEMA claim,” said St. Martin Parish Sheriff Beckett Breaux.
Breaux says his office has received more than 50 calls about inspectors going door-to-door. Most of those calls were from the upper half of the parish. Breaux says the company, WSP Inspection Services, is legit. They’re checking out possible widespread FEMA fraud.
“They’re trying to take the easy way out to make a quick buck. They’re stealing from our government, stealing taxpayers dollars, to do whatever they want to do with it,” said Breaux.
FEMA says no one knows how the scammers are getting personal information to file fake claims. They say the inspectors in St. Martin Parish will soon have enhanced credentials, to show residents they are working for FEMA.
FEMA’s Fraud Hotline is 1-866-720-5721.