(Leigh Martinez/KTVU) - Two months after the deadly and destructive North Bay fires, the FBI says it needs to investigate fraudulent claims and potential scammers.
The agency recently created a task force to help and will prosecute people trying to make money off disaster victims.
Public officials say an alarming number of claims into FEMA are duplicates. Numerous fire victims reported having trouble signing up for aid because someone else had already registered with their name and information. many of these are expected to be fraudulent.
The FBI and its task force will look into these duplicate FEMA claims as well as fraudulent charities and advertisements for housing and jobs directed at fire victims.
The following agencies are currently represented on the task force:
California Highway Patrol
Clearlake Police Department
Contractors State License Board
DHS - OIG
Lake County Sheriff's Office
Napa County Sheriff's Office
Napa County District Attorney's Office
Santa Rosa Police Department
Small Business Administration
Sonoma County District Attorney's Office
Sonoma County Sheriff's Office
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
United States Attorney's Office
Anyone who believes they are being victimized by a fraud scheme is asked to contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 866-720-5721 - the website is www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.
In other, more positive news, the North Bay Fire Relief Fund will cut a second check this week to fire victims who lost either their homes, their jobs, or wages during the October wildfires.