Scammers are targeting 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund recipients


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 Scammers are targeting 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund recipients

New Yorks two U.S. senators, Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, fired off an angry letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz demanding a formal investigation of the heartless scammers

Outraged lawmakers are urging the Justice Department to crack down on a crew of con artists who are preying on 9/11 first responders sickened by their time on Ground Zero, officials said.

New Yorks two U.S. senators, Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, fired off an angry letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz demanding a formal investigation of the heartless scammers who are reaching out to people enrolled in the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.

When they get first responders on the phone, the crooks claim to be double checking information on behalf of the compensation fund.

They then ask for addresses, social security numbers and other private information that can be used in a host of identity theft scams, officials said.

“Responders have contacted our offices and the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund, which is overseen by the Department of Justice, to report that they have received calls from people purporting to be from the VCF,” the senators wrote.

“In addition to responders, it appears that the perpetrators of this scam are also targeting staff at the law firms that have helped process the VCF applications on their behalf.”

Schumer and Gillibrand also want the DOJ to figure out how the con artists got the names of first responders in the first place.

“There must be a common source for information among the people targeted,” the senators wrote. “By determining the source of the data, we may be able to prevent more 9/11 responders from becoming a target.”

“These 9/11 first responders have spent countless years fighting for both access to care and compensation for their efforts following the terrorist attacks, and it is particularly despicable that they are now being targeted by individuals seeking to harm them and use their private information for financial gain,” the senators wrote.

There is not enough evidence to prove someone hacked the VCFs database, a source with knowledge of the case said.

How the scammers are getting the names remains a mystery.

“Targeting 9/11 families to trick them into stealing their sensitive health and financial information is sick and twisted and demands immediate attention by the Department of Justice,” Schumer said. “My message to these scammers is simple: You can run but you cannot hide. Any attempts to further inflict pain on 9/11 families will not stand – you will be caught and brought to justice.”

Some first responders have been able to see right through their ruse.

“He had broken English,” first responder Steven Ferrao told the Daily News on Saturday. “ I knew he couldnt be from the fund because I couldnt understand half of what he was saying,”

Last week, the fund posted a warning on its website about the scam.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Pete King (R-L.I.) have also urged the Federal Trade Commission to look into the scam.

Since 2011, the VCF has provided more than 17,000 people with 9/11-related illnesses with more than $3.3 billion in compensation.

Enrollees who have been targeted should not provide any information.

They should get as many details as they can, and call the fund hotline at (855) 885-1555.

By: New York Daily News

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