Common Disaster Fraud Schemes
Disasters of any kind are something no one wants to imagine will happen to them. Following a disaster, the last thing someone would expect is to be the victim of a disaster fraud scheme. Fraudsters know that following a disaster, people are at their most emotionally vulnerable, making them quick to trust and slow to question. This allows their scams to work easily on those who have been in a disaster.
It is important to be aware of these disaster fraud schemes and know what to do to stay protected from them.
What Are Disaster Fraud Schemes?
Disaster fraud schemes occur after a natural disaster or emergency in the form of social media, crowdfunding, cold calls, emails or other forms of communication. In these situations, criminals are using a tragedy to exploit people who are emotionally exposed. Their goal is to commit insurance fraud by pretending to be a trustworthy contractor or someone affiliated with the government offering to help with damages.
You can do certain things to protect yourself from disaster fraud by being proactive before a disaster strikes.
- Be aware: If an organization claims to aid victims of disasters, do your research. A fraudulent organization will only have a history of helping victims of high-profile disasters.
- Linking: Do not click links or attachments in emails or texts you do not recognize. It’s best to type out links manually rather than clicking on them.
- Hiring: If you are hiring contractors to help you repair damages after a natural disaster or other type of emergency, do your research into their credibility before hiring them to prevent being the victim of fraud.
Many resources are available to help limit the amount of disaster fraud out there and find justice for victims of it. The National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) focuses on managing fraud related to natural and human-made disasters and ultimately advocates for victims of fraud.
Types of Disaster Fraud Schemes
Disaster fraud schemes come in various forms, but knowing what to look out for can help you prevent fraud to the best of your ability. Here are some common fraud schemes:
1. Fake Social Media Fundraising Pages
Social media is a space for fundraising campaigns to take off and gain traction quickly. It is also difficult to discern what is legitimate and what is fraudulent on social media. Fraudulent fundraising campaigns often make users feel rushed into giving what they are asking for.
These pages make users feel pity by using shocking images and low-quality videos along with sad verses and a lot of emotional language, capital letters and exclamation points. Their goal is for you to be very reactive and act quickly before you have too much time to think about it.
If a page were trustworthy, it would focus on building your trust before asking you to act because their goal is for you to stick with them for a long time. They are also open and upfront about where your money is going, while a fake page will dodge around that information and do everything they can to keep your focus on other things.
2. GoFundMe Scams
GoFundMe scams have become more prevalent in recent years but still harm people. These campaigns post heartfelt stories meant to pull on people’s compassion enough to lead them to give. These are hard to decipher as legitimate GoFundMe posts also often include a heartfelt post justified by the real tragedy.
Though fraudulent fundraisers make up less than 1/10th of a percent of all GoFundMe fundraisers, it is still important to be aware that some fundraisers are fake. GoFundMe defines forbidden fraudulent activity on their site as blatantly breaking the law, lying or misleading people about your identity or posting misleading content in the fundraiser story. If you notice a fraudulent campaign on the site, report it right away so the site can work to take it down if necessary.
3. Fake Interactions With Celebrities or the Government
Scammers will act like celebrities or the government and use personal interactions via social media or email to ask for money. They often disguise their behavior by saying they are asking for money to go towards their favorite charity or some other cause they support. Sometimes they will say you have won a prize.
If someone in a place of fame or power approaches you in some way and asks for money, there are steps you should take:
- Don’t rush into things: With messaging on the internet, there is no rush. You don’t have to make a rash decision when responding. You can ask people you trust to tell you whether they think the message is valid.
- Do some research: Before responding to the message, take the time to research the information the “celebrity” gave. Research the celebrity themselves and the organization they are claiming to sponsor or favor. One quick way to find out if they are fraudulent is to search the celebrity’s full name with the word “scam.”
- Don’t send money: Never send money to someone you haven’t met or do not know. Following this rule will save you the time of doing research if you know you won’t send any money anyway.
- If you sent money: If you get caught in a moment of distraction and send money to a fraudulent account, start by contacting the company you used to send the money and explain to them that the transaction was a fraud. Many companies will be able to reverse a transaction if asked.
- Report: For the safety of others, even if you did not fall into the fraudulent trap, you should report the activity to the social media site so they can take the appropriate action.
4. Impersonation of Local Officials
Following a disaster, scammers will target victims of the disaster, claiming they are local officials seeking more information from them regarding the incident or that they need money for various, seemingly legitimate reasons. Whether the scammer says they are directly connected with the recent disaster, they know their victims are emotionally vulnerable and will exploit that.
Here are examples of how this type of fraud scheme plays out:
- Lies about victim’s identity: Impersonators will pretend they are law enforcement officials and tell the victim their identity has been used in a crime which requires them to verify their identity over the phone. Scammers will claim they are helping with an investigation or that the victim will be arrested or prosecuted if they do not cooperate.
- Failing to report for jury duty: Hearing news like this following a disaster would be very disorienting and believable, considering where the victim’s focus has been. The scammer may tell victims they need to pay a fine, giving the scammer access to their payment information.
- Passport or license renewal: A common ploy is for the scammer to tell the victim they need to renew their license or passport. This requires a lot of personal information they could use against the victim.
To fight against fraud schemes of this nature, you should know that no law enforcement or government official would ever ask for payment over the phone. You can also ask for verification from anyone who claims to be from law enforcement or government agencies.
5. Crowdfunding Efforts by Known Fraudsters Driven to Cover Fraud-Related Losses
Even the people benefiting from scams can encounter losses in the process. If this is the case, they will often begin crowdfunding efforts to cover their losses. It is part of a vicious cycle in which a scammer needs more money than they got from their first scam and must create another to cover the difference. This is why it is important to report the fraudulent activity as scammers will often continue preying on victims until they are caught.
6. Requests for Credit Card Payment Information
In any of these situations, the scammer may ask for credit card information to steal your money. This is called credit card fraud and generally takes the form of one of two categories — application fraud or account takeover.
- Application fraud: This is the unauthorized opening of a credit card in someone else’s name. A scammer could ask for your personal information to sign you up for something after a disaster and use the information instead to open a credit card account.
- Account takeover: This is the easier of the two for a disaster fraud scheme as they are often asking you to donate towards something. Giving your credit card account information allows them to commit fraud with the current account.
How Kaseware Can Help Prevent Disaster Fraud Schemes
Kaseware is a revolutionary premier investigative platform that combines all the features you need to investigate disaster fraud into one platform. We bring decades of corporate security and law enforcement experience, which has helped us build a system we know is practical and beneficial. Kaseware makes your job easier and makes the world a safer place.
Kaseware’s single platform was developed by the same team that worked on the FBI’s global investigative case management system. The system manages your cases, records, operations and evidence with many convenient features to make investigating fraud easier. Here are some of the ways our platform revolutionizes the job:
Kaseware’s solutions solve even the most complex investigative issues. Our corporate security software helps you manage cases, investigations, insider threats, protection and guard dispatch with various features to make these elements as easy and seamless as possible. Our government security resources include everything you need to manage law enforcement, fusion centers, criminal intelligence, school safety and narcotics intelligence.
The vast coverage you receive with the Kaseware platform comes at an incredible value. You will work more safely and efficiently, saving you time, money and frustration down the road when various situations come up:
- Time: The Kaseware platform will save you time as you will no longer have to switch between platforms for different tasks. Your workflow will become exponentially more efficient.
- Money: Our platform is affordable upfront and will save you money down the road as you are only investing in one platform that makes you more productive.
- Peace of mind: Kaseware is reliable wherever you take it and will need minimal maintenance or downtime. We are also on your side with unlimited assistance and regular updates.
The features on the Kaseware platform are practical, beneficial and extensive:
- Case management: Kaseware allows your investigation team to design the case management system that best fits their needs. You can have live search results up next to your cases to give you a fast side-by-side comparison.
- Team dashboard: Investigation is collaborative, so our platform makes it easy to collaborate with configurable tools for various needs.
- Public portal: The public portal on the Kaseware platform lets you quickly analyze tips and reports from both public and private web portals. It is user-friendly, so you are not limiting the information you receive.
- Data analytics: Our detailed analytics are visual and intuitive so you don’t have to spend time trying to figure out complex data.
Because the Kaseware platform has nearly every investigative tool you could need, it comes with some unique benefits:
- End-to-end solution: You will be able to manage everything from Global Security Operations Center operations to investigative cases to analytics all in one platform.
- Minimize data entry: Kaseware offers auto-fill forms that eliminate the need for duplicate forms without adding hassle. Other features like identifications scanning, geographical awareness and mobile accessibility also help minimize the need for manual data entry.
- Graphical and link analysis: Kaseware helps you connect the dots in your data and create visual ways for you to analyze it and discover patterns. You can use the charts to present your findings to your stakeholders.
Protect Your Business From Disaster Fraud With Kaseware
Whatever your business is like, Kaseware has disaster fraud solutions for you. The next step to protect your business is requesting a demo. The process is free. All you need to do is fill out a form and wait for our team to reach out and discuss how we can help your specific needs before offering you a free, personalized demo.
If you have more questions, you can also contact us with questions or call us at 720-780-8869. We would be happy to have a conversation with you.
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