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Scammers Are Impersonating 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Staff, U.S. Reps Say

April 22, 2018 - 1:06 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Three local members of Congress called upon the Federal Trade Commission Sunday to open a formal investigation into reports that people are impersonating Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund professionals to steal information.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), and Peter King (R-New York) called on Acting FTC Chair Maureen K. Ohlhuausen to open the investigation.

The scam calls reportedly come in from different phone numbers and people using different names. They say they are on the staff of the “Victim Compensation Fund,” “Victim Compensation Board,” or “VCF,” and then go on to ask for personal information to confirm people’s identity, medical history, and claim status, the members of Congress said.

“This is the worst possible disgraceful action I can imagine, to be taking advantage; to be scamming people who have suffered so much from the heroic work they did at Ground Zero after 9/11,” King said. “They and their families are suffering so much, and now to have scam artists come along and try to get their private information; their confidential information; to take advantage of their illness like this is absolutely despicable.”

Steve Ferrao got one of the scam calls himself.

“They said they were from the victim compensation from 9/11, and it was – a guy was in broken English, so I thought right away, I was like, ‘Wait a second – I’m not sure if it’s a real call or not,’” he said.

The actual Victims Compensation Fund said anyone who receives a call about a claim or potential eligibility for compensation from someone they suspect is not really from the organization, they should not provide any information to the caller. When possible, anyone receiving such a call should note details such as date, time, caller ID if available, name of caller, and questions asked.

The calls should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. Anyone who is unsure about whether a caller is from the Victims Compensation Fund should call the organization Help Line at (855) 885-1555.

The fund noted that real calls it places follow a standard protocol for validating claimants’ identities, and effective immediately will not ask for anyone’s full Social Security number.

King said a criminal investigation might be warranted.

“It at least should be looked at by the District Attorney, the Attorney General, and the Justice Department to see if there’s any criminal violation there, because I believe there’s certainly a moral violation, and I would hope they could find a criminal law that’s being violated here, because to me, it’s absolutely disgraceful – this type of fraudulent conduct,” he said.

Ferrao agreed.

“I think criminal charges should be pressed, because they’re looking to deprive 9/11 first responders of money, and they’re looking to hurt us,” he said.