FBI Warns Florida Residents of Fraud Schemes as Death Toll Rises From Hurricane Ian

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
October 2, 2022USshare
FBI Warns Florida Residents of Fraud Schemes as Death Toll Rises From Hurricane Ian
John Vest looks at his storm damaged business, Capt. Johns Subtropic Charters, at Fish Trap Marina in Bonita Springs, Fla., on Oct. 1, 2022. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The FBI issued a warning to Florida residents, and people seeking to make donations to support Hurricane Ian victims, about potential fraud schemes that frequently follow hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“Watch out for scammers trying to use a natural disaster like Hurricane Ian to steal your money, your personal information, or both,” the FBI’s Tampa office wrote in a recent warning.

The bureau said it is recommending that would-be donors use established charities or trusted groups, be aware of groups with copycat names, be wary of new organizations soliciting donations, and be cautious when a charity or group asks for cash only.

Donating via check or credit card is preparable, the FBI said while adding that groups that are asking for donations via “cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer,” are “probably a scam.”

The FBI’s Miami office also advised potential donors to “do your homework” before providing donations, adding that people can look into reviews of certain charities, state regulators for charities, and reports of charities at the Better Business Bureau.

Death Toll Increases

The death toll from Hurricane Ian has increased to 54 people, including at least 47 in Florida, officials told The Associated Press. The toll includes four from North Carolina and three from Cuba.

“It’s really, really incredible the amount of flood that we’re seeing,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference on Saturday.

In this aerial photo made in a flight provided by mediccorps.org, damage from Hurricane Ian is seen on Estero Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., on Sept. 30, 2022. (Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)

Florida was hit hardest by the Category 4 hurricane, one of the strongest to make landfall in the United States. Flooded roadways and washed-out bridges to barrier islands left many people isolated, amid limited cellphone service and a lack of basic amenities such as water, electricity, and the internet.

Florida utilities were working to restore power. As of Saturday night, nearly 1 million homes and businesses were still without electricity, down from a peak of 2.67 million.

The National Hurricane Center said in an advisory on Saturday that the storm—downgraded to a post-tropical depression—dissipated across southern Virginia. There were reports of power outages and flooding across North and South Carolina as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Saturday that at least four people died in his state.

President Joe Biden would visit Puerto Rico and Florida in the next week, according to a White House statement.

“It’s not just a crisis for Florida. This is an American crisis. We’re all in this together,” Biden said during remarks on Saturday. “I just want the people of Florida to know: We see what you’re going through and we’re with you.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times