WASHINGTON (AP) – Authorities are bracing for a wave of fraud and other criminal activity set into motion by Harvey’s punishing rains.
Federal and state officials are warning residents, volunteers and officials in flood zones in Texas and Louisiana they could be targeted by storm-related scams, contract corruption, document fraud, identify theft and other crimes. The easy availability of personal information and documents on the internet has widened criminal activities and potential victims to anywhere in the U.S.
A federal disaster-related task force has operated since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It’s prosecuted defendants for disaster-related crimes, including more than 1,460 in connection with crimes associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Those prosecutions targeted defendants in 49 federal districts across the country — an indication that criminal activities spawned by Harvey could originate anywhere.