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Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina and Rita Information

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FBI on the Ground Following Katrina

As water gushed into New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, the FBI began pouring people and resources into the beleaguered city. Within days, we had nearly 500 special agents and staff from all over the country on the ground who were part of a coordinated federal effort, working with state and local authorities to help rein in the chaos and rescue those still stranded.

Read more about the FBI’s response to the disaster

Read more about the FBI Disaster Squad’s role in identifying victims

Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force (now the Disaster Fraud Task Force)

The FBI partners with the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, and other government agencies on the Disaster Fraud Task Force, which is addressing all of the frauds that have resulted from Hurricane Katrina and other disasters.

Links: Department of Justice Disaster Fraud Task Force Page

Katrina Stories

Charitable Phishing, Spoofing Alerts

Fake Charity Websites, E-Mails

The FBI is seeing an influx of websites soliciting for charitable donations to aid the victims of the latest natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina. Consistent with previous guidance on incidents of phishing/spoofing and identity theft, when considering online options for providing funding to this relief effort, consumers should consider the following:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (SPAM) incoming e-mails.
  • To ensure contributions to U.S. based non-profit organizations are used for intended purposes, go directly to recognized charities and aid organization’s websites, as opposed to following a link to another site.
  • Attempt to verify the legitimacy of non-profit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources which may assist in confirming the existence of the organization, as well as its non-profit status.
  • Be leery of e-mails claiming to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.

Several variations of this scam are currently in circulation. Be aware, scammers will attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the relief efforts along the Gulf coast. If you have received a fraud, or similar e-mail, please file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.

Fake Spam E-Mail Allegedly Seeking Donations for the Red Cross

The FBI has become aware of a spam e-mail soliciting $5 donations that purports to be coming from support2@redcross.org, with the subject line of “American Redcross Help Needed! Katrina relief.” The e-mail provides a link to click and enter credit/debit card information for the $5 contribution. The link appears to go to the RedCross.org website. However, the link actually sends one to a non-affiliated collection site of http://pro-solutions2.com/cgi-bin/register.pl. THIS E-MAIL IS A HOAX. DO NOT FOLLOW THE PROVIDED LINK. Be cautious when responding to requests or special offers delivered through unsolicited e-mail:

  • Guard your account information carefully.
  • Keep a list of all you credit cards and account information along with the card issuer’s contact information. If your monthly statement looks suspicious or you lose your card(s) contact the issuer immediately.
  • To ensure contributions to U.S. based non-profit organizations are received and used for intended purposes, go directly to recognized charities and aid organizations’ websites, as opposed to following links provided in e-mails.

If you have received this, or a similar hoax, please file a complaint at www.ic3.gov

Links: FBI Cyber Exec Warns of Online Schemers Exploiting Katrina Tragedy | Phony Pilot Busted for Katrina Fraud |
Hurricane Katrina Fraud: Do You Pass the Test?

Nigerian 419 Scheme

The FBI has become aware of spam e-mails crafted in the style of a Nigerian 419 schemes, exploiting the loss of lives attributable to Hurricane Katrina disaster. The e-mail continues with instructions on how the recipient can claim money left behind, in an overseas bank account, by the next of kin. In some instances, in exchange for helping to move the funds, a portion of the inheritance is purported to be donated to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. One version of the scam actually states family members have died in both the Thailand Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. THESE E-MAILS ARE A HOAX. DO NOT RESPOND. Other disasters Nigerian 419 schemes have attempted to capitalize on include: London Bombings; September 11, 2001; and various airplane crashes. When opening e-mails from unknown authors, please consider the following:

  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money.
  • Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
  • Guard your account information carefully.
  • To ensure contributions to U.S. based non-profit organizations are received and used for intended purposes, go directly to recognized charities and aid organizations’ websites, as opposed to relying on others to make the donation on your behalf. If you have received this, or similar hoax, please file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.

Insurance Fraud

The FBI has teamed up with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) to target individuals attempting to defraud people whose homes and businesses have been damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. If you believe you have been approached by a suspect contractor or adjustor or have been encouraged to fabricate an insurance claim, contact your insurance company or call the NICB hotline at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). For more information regarding insurance fraud, visit the following websites: the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

Link: Hurricane Repair Scams: Don’t Get Taken by the “Big Fix”

Public Corruption and Government Fraud

On September 15, 2005, the FBI launched a tip line, 1-800-CALL FBI or 1-800-225-5324, to collect information and complaints of public corruption and government fraud, in connection with the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. Information related to these matters can be provided toll-free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These lines are manned by FBI personnel and the information collected is analyzed, investigated, and shared with our state, local, and federal law enforcement personnel.

Link: Press Release

Missing and Found Children

The U.S. Department of Justice is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to help reunite families separated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Go to the site to view photos of children looking for their parents and see photos of missing children. If you have or need any information, call NCMEC’s Katrina/Rita Missing Persons hot line at 1-888-544-5475.

FBI Background Checks

The FBI has obtained the authority to provide states with access to the FBI criminal history database for the purpose of conducting background checks on any volunteer, relief worker, or evacuee associated with Hurricane Katrina who would have access to children. The FBI is waiving its $24 fee that is normally charged for fingerprint-based checks relating to employment, licensing, and suitability. This limited authority expires on November 7, 2005 and requires a state or federal statute authorizing a fingerprint-based criminal history background check for individuals with access to children.


Hurricane Katrina Rescue Workers in Flooded Neighborhood (FEMA Photo)
Photo courtesy of FEMA