Closely following a series of destructive hurricanes from which parts of the U.S. are only beginning the long road to recovery, the Justice Department issued a memorandum to each of the nation’s U.S. Attorney’s Offices and to law enforcement agencies setting department-wide policies for responding to disaster fraud.
The memo, announced yesterday, provides guidance on investigating and prosecuting disaster fraud, and signals the DOJ’s focus on rooting out this particularly egregious form or fraud. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein pledged that the “Department is committed to pursuing any fraudsters seeking to capitalize on the tragedy and will devote the necessary resources to do so.”
The agency’s press release also encourages the public to report suspected fraud involving disaster relief efforts. Fraudulent schemes involving taxpayer dollars, such as those perpetrated by businesses awarded government contracts to assist in relief efforts, may create liability under the False Claims Act. “By working together, we can ensure that federal emergency relief funds are properly distributed to those who need them most and that taxpayers are not victimized by fraudsters and other criminals,” Rosenstein said in a statement.
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