Lt. Governor Stephen B.Pence's Communication Office
Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence urges Kentuckians to use caution as they donate to hurricane relief efforts

Press Release Date:  Thursday, September 29, 2005  
Contact Information:  Jeanne Lausche
Ryan Watts
(502) 564-2611

New tip line procedure in place to report hurricane relief fraud

FRANKFORT, Ky.:  In an effort to protect the generosity of Kentuckians, Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence announced today a new initiative to shield the commonwealth against any possible hurricane relief fraud.

“Kentuckians have opened their wallets and their hearts to the people who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita,” said Lieutenant Governor Pence, who also serves as the secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.  “We want to ensure these donations are actually received by legitimate relief agencies and organizations, and not stolen by criminals.”

A new tip line procedure put in place by Kentucky State Police will route hurricane fraud complaints directly to KSP Headquarters, where telecommunicators will take information for investigators to pursue.  People who suspect they may have been taken advantage of by fraudulent “charities,” websites, or even persons posing as disaster victims, should call 1-800-222-5555 to report the crime. 

“KSP will be taking reports of crimes ranging from false solicitors to bogus websites,” added Pence.  “We want to send a clear message that taking advantage of Kentuckians’ generosity will not be tolerated.”

In addition, Kentucky is working with the federal Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, which was established by U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to deter, investigate, and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud and insurance fraud.  The task force includes members from the FBI, the Postal Inspector’s Office, and U.S. Attorneys.    Lieutenant Governor Pence has also invited Attorney General Greg Stumbo to aid in the effort to root out hurricane relief fraud. 

“It is important that all law enforcement agencies on the state and federal level work together to ensure that legitimate relief efforts are receiving donations that are desperately needed for people affected by the hurricanes,” added Pence.

The American Red Cross applauds Lieutenant Governor Pence’s commitment to protect people who want to help hurricane victims.

"The fraudulent solicitation of contributions given in good faith to help the victims of disaster hurts everyone," said Paula Rutledge, Executive Director of the Franklin County Chapter of the Red Cross. "It hurts the ability of the Red Cross to help people in need, it hurts the contributors whose money just disappears, and it hurts, obviously, the victims in need of assistance. The Red Cross will work with all levels of law enforcement to put an end to such fraud,” Rutledge concluded.

Examples of fraudulent schemes that Kentuckians should be on the lookout for include:

Persons posing as hurricane victims

Fraudulent charities:  Individuals falsely pose as agents of a legitimate charity, or create a false “charity” that is a scam;

Bogus websites:  These include Phishing, which is when scammers use fake websites that pretend to be legitimate relief organizations, viruses, and fee-based spam emails.