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Madison Police Investigating Suspicious Blonde White Female Claiming To Be From FEMA

Madison 911 reminds residents that legitimate FEMA workers will carry a photo ID. If you see something suspicious, report it to the police. Police are seeking the identity of the person and the license number of the car.

 

The Madison 911 Twitter feed has reported that the Madison Police Department is investigating a blonde white female who appears to be in her 30's, in a white or silver vehicle, approaching homeowners and claiming to be from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal goverment agency that deals with disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Madison Police Department spokesman Officer Joseph Race said there have been three different reports going back to New Year's Eve.

He said it appears as though it's the same woman being reported each time.

"We have it as a white female with blonde hair, driving a small silver car. Maybe in her 30's or 40's," he said.

Race said there was a similar report from Guilford a few days, "the exact same thing, saying they worked for FEMA.

Race said the woman approached a house and, upon finding the resident was not there, took pictures and drove off.

Race said it would be ideal if someone could get the woman's license plate number, "because if it is a federal employee, that would be good to know. It could be legit. If that person is from FEMA, they will have an ID."

Madison 911 says no crime has been reported.

Madison 911 also reminds residents that "legitimate FEMA employees will carry photo ID. Don't give your info to anyone without verifying."

Madison 911 also cited the following press release:

Watch Out For Fraudsters

Release date: November 12, 2012

... state and federal officials are warning of a danger lurking around the corner:  phony building contractors and other scam artists could soon appear in your community attempting to take advantage of your vulnerability as a disaster survivor.

There are a few simple steps that you can take to make sure you’re dealing with an honest person. Your first and best defense is to know the most common post-disaster fraud practices. Here are some of the fraudster’s favorites:

Phony housing inspectors: If your home’s damage is visible from the street, you may be especially vulnerable to the phony housing inspector who claims to represent FEMA or the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). You should:

  • Ask to see the inspector’s identification badge if he or she does not offer to show it. A FEMA or SBA shirt or jacket is not proof of someone’s affiliation with the government. All federal employees and contractors carry official, laminated photo identification.
  • Avoid giving bank account numbers to an inspector claiming to be affiliated with the federal government. FEMA inspectors never require banking information.
  • Understand that FEMA housing inspectors verify damage, but do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs. They also do not determine cost estimates.

Fraudulent building contractors:  Damage visible from the street can also bring out sham contractors who visit your home offering to begin work immediately. They take your money and disappear, leaving behind unfinished work and unsafe homes. 

  • Before hiring a contractor, check with the state Division of Consumer Affairs make sure the contractor is registered. [Here is information from the CT Department of Consumer Affairs about dealing with contractors: http://www.ct.gov/DCP/cwp/view.asp?A=4187&Q=511396. "In order to determine if someone is a registered home improvement contractor, consumers should search the terms “home improvement contractor” or “home improvement salesperson” at elicense.ct.gov or call the Department’s Complaint Center Hotline at 800-842-2649 during business hours.  If you have information about an unregistered salesperson or contractor, please call the Home Improvement line at 860-713-6110.]
  • Ask for a copy of the contractor’s liability insurance and verify that the policy is valid.
  • All contracts should be in writing, and reviewed before being signed.

Fake offers of state or federal aid: If someone claiming to be from FEMA or the state visits, calls or emails you asking for your Social Security number, bank account number or other sensitive information, beware. That information could be sold to identity thieves or used to defraud you. A twist on this scam is the phone or in-person solicitor who promises to speed up the insurance, disaster assistance or building-permit process. Then there are scam artists who promise you a disaster grant and ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full.

Here’s what to do:

  • Provide your Social Security number and banking information only when registering for FEMA assistance, either by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585, or going online at www.disasterassistance.gov or via a web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov.  If you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services, call 1-800-621-3362.
  • Know that federal and state workers do not solicit or accept money.  FEMA and SBA staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications.  If in doubt, do not give out information, and report people claiming to be government workers to local police.

Price Gouging:  Excessive price increases are illegal.

Charity Scams:  Before donating, be sure to investigate to make sure the organization asking for donations is registered to solicit in [your state].  Ask how the money will be used. [The CT Department of Consumer Protection maintains information on charities that are registered with the state and the minimum percentage guaranteed to go to that charity.  The Department’s website, https://www.elicense.ct.gov, provides charity registration information and displays any active solicitation campaign notices for a registered charity or their paid solicitor. Additional information is also available at Charity Navigator, http://www.charitynavigator.org; the Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/charityfraud; and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at http://www.bbb.org/us/charity. While the outpouring of grief, concern and support for the families affected by this tragedy will be enormous, so will be the potential for fraud. Please report suspicious solicitations to your local police and to the Department of Consumer Protection at 1-800-842-2649. Anyone caught engaging in fraudulent activity will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.]


For Connecticut residents interested in finding out if they can get help from FEMA, the deadline for registering has been extended to Jan. 28, 2013:

FEMA Helpline Still Available to Assist Hurricane Sandy Survivors in Connecticut

Release date: January 2, 2013

FEMA’s registration Helpline is still available for Connecticut residents who suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Although all FEMA-State Disaster Recovery Centers in Connecticut have closed, the Helpline remains available for survivors to register for federal disaster assistance. Sandy survivors who have already registered for aid can call to ask questions, update contact information or check the status of their applications.

Disaster survivors can call 800-621-3362 to register for assistance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Those who use TTY can call 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators can be reached after the initial English message concludes.

The deadline to register with FEMA has been extended to Jan. 28.

Disaster survivors can register online anytime day or night at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or with a smartphone or other Web-enabled device at m.fema.gov.

Registering for disaster assistance with other agencies or organizations does not register survivors for FEMA disaster assistance. Having FEMA flood insurance does not register policyholders for disaster assistance; flood insurance claims are handled separately.

As of Dec. 28, 2012, more than 2,500 Connecticut residents have been approved for federal disaster assistance. FEMA offers financial help to survivors of federally-declared disasters to cover uninsured losses and critical expenses which cannot be covered by other means.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status.  If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362. For TTY, call 800-462-7585.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and covers the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

Bonnie Lynne Bernal January 03, 2013 at 05:20 PM
I spotted her at approximately 11:30 am yesterday (1/2/13), photographing a house on Bartlett Dr. She was standing next to a small, silverish vehicle, parked on the street, at the end of the driveway of the house she was photographing. I immediately texted the owner of the 'home of interest' and alerted the homeowner.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 05:29 PM
Thanks Bonnie.
Susan Cassidy January 03, 2013 at 05:41 PM
she's closer in age to 50 than 30. well dressed/not wearing any Fema identifying clothing. she pulled in my driveway in her Mercedes (i was waiting for kindergarten bus) and shouted that she was from Fema and wondered if we had any damage from the storm. very odd.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 05:52 PM
That is odd. What neighborhood Susan, if you don't mind saying ... or which part of town (north or south)? Thanks.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Just spoke with a town official who received a report from a town resident. He says if anyone sees this person, that a license number would be very useful. That can be reported to Madison Police (203) 245-2721.
Sadly No January 03, 2013 at 06:58 PM
There is also an older gentleman (70's)?, white hair, 6', walking and going to houses on Squires Road.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Saying he's from FEMA?
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 07:55 PM
The police have not received a report of an older man with white hair claiming to be from FEMA, just a woman.
Bonnie Lynne Bernal January 03, 2013 at 08:07 PM
I'll take the liberty of replying. She was, in fact, at Sue Cassidy's house, on Bartlett Dr., when I saw her. Unfortunately, in my rush to text Sue an alert, it didn't occur to me to get the plate. In the future...
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Thanks Bonnie. Police confirmed your report. Sounds like you did the right thing. I think they're just trying to figure out if it's legit or not.
Lynda Enright January 03, 2013 at 08:19 PM
She came to my house a few weeks ago. Asked about storm damage. She asked to take photos of the house... I refused permission. She then told me she already had a photo of my mailbox and left the property.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Very strange. Did it sound like she was trying to sell something? Was she driving a mercedes, or could you see?
Scott Wilson January 04, 2013 at 12:33 AM
Hey Pem, I solved the mystery why did you delete my post?
Scott Wilson January 04, 2013 at 12:42 AM
It's a Toyota Prius and the woman works for SafeCo Mortgage. I reported her last year doing the same thing and she would not call the police back so they did not pursue it. She takes photos of homes and try's to intimidate people late on payments for banks holding fraudulent loans that they cannot legally foreclose on.
Gerri January 04, 2013 at 12:39 PM
A woman was on Twilight Drive yesterday afternoon, around 3pm,stating she was from Stevens TV and asking what service we had. She was driving a grey SUV, was white, dark hair, heavier set. She had no ID, no clipboard, etc. She parked in our driveway and said she was doing a survey. May be nothing but, in view if alerts, I thought I would mention it.
Susan Cassidy January 04, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Scott, the lady who stated she was from FEMA was driving a Mercedes
Mike Ock January 04, 2013 at 01:44 PM
I don't know why this is a problem. You should be glad FEMA is trying to help. My house and property has so much damage and I shouldn't have to pay to fix it. This storm was the government's fault, not mine so they should fix it.
Mike Ock January 04, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Why are they up in silly north madison looking for storm damage?!?! Nobody even lives up there. My house downtown on the beach where people actually live is all messed up and she hasn't come to my house yet! This is unacceptable.
gerri keating January 04, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Actually, North Madison is not silly! Many people live up here and are concerned for OUR town..sharing information is about just that...keeping everyone informed and to be aware. NOT, just about personal concerns.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 03:52 PM
"This storm was the government's fault, not mine so they should fix it." "Why are they up in silly north madison ..." MO ... sounds like you're trying to get something started here. Please try to focus. If you have something useful to contribute about the information from the MPD, great. If not, please give it a rest.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Gerri ... you make an excellent point and one that transcends this particular story. While none of us know exactly what is going on here, Bonnie did exactly what a good neighbor should do, she alerted her neighbor about something that looked not quite right. And that allowed the police department to put out a heads up and a request for information. Scott's information may prove useful as well, although it seems both similar and different (maybe the woman has a new job, got a raise, a new car and a new MO? I have no idea, but the similarities and differences are interesting). Part of the key was that Bonnie knew how to contact her neighbor quickly. Neighborhoods where people know each other and feel comfortable enough to communicate with each other--about people poking around the neighborhood, about the kids, about what's needed to make the neighborhood better--are safer neighborhoods. And, usually, IMO, better places to live (and more fun) that neighborhoods where those connections are not as strong. Well done, Bonnie.
Sadly No January 04, 2013 at 07:44 PM
My sister-in-law who lives off Bradley corners road saw a gentleman today in his 60's with white hair holding a clipboard going house to house. He came down her driveway and said he was doing assessments. She called and reported it
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Whoa ... wait! That was from 2007-2008!!! I'll see if I can get more up to date information (and recommend they update their website ... )
Claiborne Clapsnyder January 04, 2013 at 08:14 PM
I saw a guy in a brown panel truck wearing a brown shirt, brown shorts and a brown hat driving around my neighborhood, leaving boxes on people's porches. I yelled at him, "Hey, get off my lawn!" He drove away.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Probably good to be careful. From the town website: "The revaluation company will be inspecting the recent sales of properties within the Town. For properties that are to be inspected, a revaluation company representative will carry identification in the form of a picture ID. In addition, a complete description of the representative's vehicle will be registered with the police department and the Assessor's office." So, if he's properly registered, he's all set.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 07, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Just spoke with the assessors office. They do NOT have people out in the field doing assessments now. They will be starting around Feb. 1, at which point the information on the website will be updated. They said that when the field workers doing the assessment start, they will go to the PD, have their picture taken and their car license plate registered. Until then, the assessors office said, yes, if someone is out there in your neighborhood claiming to be doing assessments for the town, best to give the PD a call to let them know.

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