9/11 Health Bill Sponsors Call on FTC to Open Investigation into Scammers Stealing First Responders’ and Survivors’ Information

Apr 22, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY) this week appealed to FTC Acting Chair Maureen K. Ohlhausen to open a formal investigation into reports that individuals are impersonating September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) professionals to steal first responders’ and survivors’ information. The members are the original sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act which established the VCF.

In the letter the members state, “[W]e urge the FTC to open a formal investigation into this case and act swiftly to bring these scammers to justice. Even for lowlife fraudsters, this is an outrageous con job. The thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors who have been injured by the toxins at Ground Zero have faced years of adversity and challenges, not only dealing with the physical impact of the toxins from Ground Zero, but the emotional issues that have caused so many cases of PTSD in this community. It is despicable that this community now needs to worry about being tricked into revealing sensitive personal information that could cause real harm in their lives if this data is used maliciously.”

Full text of the letter below and a PDF can be found here.

Dear Chairperson Ohlhausen,

We are writing to you as the original sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to express our concerns about reports of scammers calling 9/11 responders and survivors and impersonating the staff of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

It is our understanding that some person or persons using different names and phone numbers have been calling 9/11 responders, family members and lawyers stating that they are staff of the “Victim Compensation Fund,” “Victim Compensation Board,” or “VCF” then asking for personal information to confirm their identity, medical history, and claim status.

In response to this, the Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund referred the matter to the DOJ Office of the Inspector General, including specific information about the scam calls as reported by callers to the VCF Helpline.  We understand OIG referred the matter to the FTC.  The VCF also posted this notice on their website:

“ALERT: The VCF is aware of calls being made by unknown persons claiming to be the VCF. These callers ask questions about the status of an individual’s VCF claim, state that the individual may be entitled to money, and/or ask for personal information in order to mail a claim package or file a claim on the individuals’ behalf. 

If you receive a call with questions about your VCF claim or your potential eligibility for compensation from someone that you suspect is not VCF staff, you should not provide any information to the caller. When possible, please note details about the call (date, time, caller ID if available, name of caller, questions asked, etc.) and report the call to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

Calls made by VCF staff follow a standard protocol for validating the claimant’s identity. Effective immediately, the VCF will never ask you for your full Social Security Number. If you are uncertain whether the caller is from the VCF, please end the call and contact the VCF Helpline at 1-855-885-1555.”

While we appreciate this public notice, we urge the FTC to open a formal investigation into this case and act swiftly to bring these scammers to justice. Even for lowlife fraudsters, this is an outrageous con job. The thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors who have been injured by the toxins at Ground Zero have faced years of adversity and challenges, not only dealing with the physical impact of the toxins from Ground Zero, but the emotional issues that have caused so many cases of PTSD in this community. It is despicable that this community now needs to worry about being tricked into revealing sensitive personal information that could cause real harm in their lives if this data is used maliciously.

We know that you will share our concerns about this and look forward to your response.

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