Sarasota Sheriff: Possible scammers posing as FEMA workers

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is warning about a possible new scam that has surfaced in the wake of Hurricane Irma. They’ve received reports of people posing as FEMA workers trying to get inside houses.

All throughout the Tampa Bay area, damaged roofs and debris piles are a nuisance to many homeowners. If they’re not careful, scammers could take advantage of them.

“Scammers, there’s always gonna be those people, there’s always gonna be those people. You just gotta be on the lookout. Be smart, don’t be dumb,” said Sarasota resident Richard Goodat.

Take this for example. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says on Wednesday evening, two women went to a gated community off Palmer Ranch Parkway.

They claimed they worked for FEMA and Freddie Mac and they needed to get inside a house for a home inspection. But, when they were told the homeowner never made a FEMA request, the pair quickly took off.

“Whenever there’s a disaster or as they say, blood in the streets, there’s always someone trying to make money off it. Its just not right,” said Michael Veautour.

Deputies say FEMA would never work this way.

“If you question whether or not they work for FEMA, ask for some identification,” said Sgt. Steve Leavitt.

Officials have also heard of scammers posing as FEMA officials over the phone. Scammers are also reportedly overcharging residents for debris removal.

“Don’t do anything on the spur of the moment,” said Sgt. Leavitt.

Officials say question everything and do your research.

Many locals are already on the lookout and some feel you can protect yourself from scammers by doing your own repair work.

“They don’t need to lean on the federal government or the city or the county to do it, just take care of it,” said Veautour.

FEMA, the US Army Corps of Engineers and county governments are providing resources to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. If you have any questions or concerns, call your county government.

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