NICB: Fla. Hurricane Victims Beware

August 19, 2004

Victims of Hurricane Charley in Florida may be the target of unscrupulous contractors and others who prey on people who are beginning to rebuild their homes and businesses, warns the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

After a devastating natural disaster, professionals often go from door-to-door in damaged neighborhoods, offering clean up and repair services. Most of these business people are reputable. Others are not. The dishonest ones may pocket payment without completing the job or use inferior materials and perform shoddy work not up to code—further victimizing those affected by the hurricane.

“People are often so consumed with the devastation that has occurred in their lives that they are more vulnerable,” said Robert Bryant, president and CEO of the NICB. “Educate yourself against dishonest contractors now so you can avoid becoming a victim of disaster fraud.”

A common fraud scheme is reportedly for a “so-called”contractor to convince a homeowner that a large deposit must be provided before repair work can begin, Bryant explained. Frequently, the job will be started, but not completed. “These con artists are never seen or heard from again,” he said.

Another common fraud scam after natural disasters like Hurricane Charley is that others may attempt to manipulate disaster victims into making claims for losses that did not occur, according to the NICB.

For more information about disaster fraud, visit the NICB Web site at

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