On this one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, one of our greatest concerns is how to protect vulnerable, local Brigantine homeowners from predatory activity. This questionable, and unethical activity could come from a variety of sources….ex: Keep your eyes peeled for a few bad apples involved with insurance, repair, Real Estate, contractors, fund-raisers, permitting, business, T-shirt sales, developers, etc. Sometimes a predator could be a so-called “trusted” community person / neighbor. Here are some excerpts from a PHILLY.com and other sources.
Joyce Rickter, 73, a resident of Brigantine’s north end: “Our primary home in Florida was something my husband and I bought as an investment so we would have something when we got old,” Rickter said. “But it had always been a struggle for us to maintain two homes, but we did it for 25 years. This storm was the final kick in the pants for me, though. One of the houses has to go, and I can’t sell this one in the condition it’s in.” Some said: “People think we’re millionaires because we owned a second home . . . and we’re not”. “Some years, it was hard for us to scrape together to pay the taxes.
Some have fielded low ball offers for their properties…. “paltry” amounts offered – “$10,000, $20,000” – for a lot. The resident added: “I know I’m not selling to some developer.”
A Metuchen man admitted in a New Brunswick courtroom that he defrauded victims of Hurricane Sandy out of thousands of dollars.
David Scott Ruddy, 33, pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by deception before Superior Court Judge Joseph Paone, and admitted he promised storm victims low-cost housing or cars, but, instead stole their money, scamming them and others of about $55,000, according to Acting Attorney General John Hoffman. SEE MORE: http://www.nj.com/middlesex/index.ssf/2013/10/metuchen_man_admits_he_scammed_victims_of_hurricane_sandy.html
A Monmouth County Fraud Task Force investigation resulted in a Toms River contractor being charged with working while unregistered and uninsured. Shane Wood, 48, was charged with providing a fraudulent insurance certificate and working as an unregistered contractor after state authorities revoked his registration. Read More: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/07/ocean_county_man_charged_with_hurricane_sandy_related_fraud.html
From the FBI…
In the wake of natural disasters, many people want to contribute to victim assistance programs and organizations across the country—however, there is always a potential for disaster relief fraud in these situations. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) are asking the public to apply a critical eye and do due diligence before giving to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of hurricane victims. Solicitations can originate as e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings, telephone calls, and other similar methods.
Suspected fraudulent activity pertaining to relief efforts associated with Hurricane Sandy should be reported to the toll-free NCDF hotline at 866-720-5721. The hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the purpose of reporting suspected scams being perpetrated by criminals in the aftermath of disasters.