New Scams Are Spreading Amid Natural Disasters

( One of the busiest in recent memory was the Atlantic hurricane season of 2021. Over 80 people were killed in eight states due to Hurricane Ida, which tore across the southern United States and up the Eastern Seaboard, causing $75 billion in damage.

When Tropical Storm Fred hit North Carolina, it flooded the state, damaging and destroying houses, highways, and bridges and leaving seven people dead. Up to 21 named storms and six major hurricanes are expected in 2022, according to experts, as the six-month Atlantic hurricane season gets underway this month. This year, a significant storm is anticipated to cause severe disruption to many lives.

In addition to hurricanes, most West is experiencing an early start to wildfire season due to extreme drought conditions and hot temperatures. During the rest of 2022, Americans will see severe weather of all types, including floods, tornadoes, and other catastrophes.

Scammers and fraudsters trying to make a fast profit will target survivors who these tragic occurrences have directly impacted. They will also target charitable Americans looking to help communities rebuild by giving their time or money. Sadly, it’s not just extreme weather catastrophes that cause chaos. As state attorneys general, we are prepared to protect and support our communities whenever bad weather—and the criminals who would use it—is on the horizon.

Price gouging, consumer fraud by dishonest contractors, particularly those from outside the state, and fraudulent charitable solicitations—all too typical in the wake of hurricanes and other natural disasters—are potentially unlawful activities.

More than 1,400 cases of catastrophe fraud were prosecuted after Hurricane Katrina, resulting in $500 million in financial losses. That also applies online; following Katrina, authorities reported that over 5,000 websites purporting to be active in the recovery effort were questionable and possibly fraudulent.

State attorneys general are essential in protecting citizens from fraud and other scams, helping those in need, interacting with the public before and after a storm, and coordinating recovery efforts with local, state, and federal partners. As each state’s leading legal officers, we also prosecute con artists, drive them out of our states when they prey on our citizens, and secure monetary compensation for the harmed parties.