Defending Against Disaster Fraud Allegations

Defending Against Disaster Fraud Allegations

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a memorandum to all 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices providing guidance for a department-wide response relating to the investigation and prosecution of disaster fraud allegations.

National Center for Disaster Fraud

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the DOJ established the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) to investigate and prosecute disaster relief fraud. The NCDF’s mission is “to improve and further the detection, prevention, investigation, and prosecution of fraud related to natural and man-made disasters, and to advocate for the victims of such fraud.”

Since 2005 the NCDF has received over 70,000 complaints from 50 states, 6 territories, and 4 countries involving more than 50 natural and man-made disasters. Federal prosecutors in 49 districts charged 1,370 disaster fraud cases involving 1,463 defendants in connection with Hurricane Katrina and Rita alone.

Department-Wide Policy Regarding Disaster Fraud

The memorandum establishes a DOJ policy that directs the U.S. Attorney’s Offices to: establish a disaster fraud point-of-contact, direct all disaster fraud complaints to the NCDF, notify the NCDF of any disaster-related enforcement actions, and ensure proper resources are dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of disaster fraud matters.

Further, U.S. Attorneys in districts impacted by recent hurricanes are to establish regional disaster fraud tasks forces. Prior to the release of the DOJ’s memorandum, four U.S. Attorney’s Offices in affected districts had already established task forces dedicated to combating disaster fraud.

Disaster Fraud

Examples of alleged disaster fraud being reported to the NCDF include:

  • Fraudulent submission of claims to insurance companies and the federal government.
  • Fraudulent activity related to solicitation for donations and charitable giving.
  • Fraudulent activity related to individuals and organization promising high investment returns from profits from recovery and cleanup efforts.
  • Identity theft.
  • Price gouging.

Federal prosecutors have been directed to allocate resources to prosecuting suspected instances of disaster fraud. In their zeal to relentlessly pursue disaster fraud cases, innocent people may be falsely accused. Even if you are confident that your actions were lawful, we strongly urge you to seek the help of an attorney.

Defending Against Disaster Fraud Allegations

Mounting a strong defense against disaster fraud charges requires specialized skills. You need an attorney who understands the tactics and procedures the government will use to obtain a conviction. You need an attorney who can combat aggressive prosecutors.

Founding Partner, Ashley D. Adams is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney. She has a longstanding relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department of Justice. Our firm has credibility with these agencies. They know we are willing to go to trial, and that we are tough adversaries. A fact that may lead to more favorable plea deals.

There is no white collar criminal case that is too complex or too challenging for us. No matter how difficult your case may appear, contact us for the legal protection you need.

Contact our Arizona fraud and criminal defense attorney on the web or call (480) 219-1366 for a case evaluation. There is no substitute for the type of experience and diligent legal representation that a high-quality attorney can provide.

We practice excellence, one client at a time.


The attorneys at Ashley D. Adams, PLC handles state criminal cases throughout Arizona and federal criminal cases throughout the United States, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, and California.