Hurricane Ian Leads to Predictable FEMA Fraud
Threat Actors (TAs) are ready to take advantage of vulnerabilities as disasters strike and populations become more susceptible to potential fraud. A wave of actors was ready to take advantage of the FEMA disaster assistance program that was released 28SEP2022 after Hurricane Ian hit Florida. Not only have these TAs stolen affected individuals’ information to defraud this assistance program, but they also disseminated tactics and methods of how to obtain money from FEMA under a fake persona for others to join the fun.
A three-part FEMA method video tutorial is circulating on Facebook for individuals to learn how to obtain money from applying for FEMA assistance. Additionally, a private Telegram channel communicating and helping TAs conduct fraud. Facebook users have taken to social media to disseminate this tutorial while other users are advertising their services of creating fake digital and physical identification to TAs wanting to obtain money using fake credentials. Users like JayDa Don, Mariah Parks, and George Kessel are telling their followers that they can get a hold of this tutorial if you pay up.
A free PDF version of the tutorial was discovered on VirusTotal. The individual who created the tutorial seems to be “@nold500” on Telegram. He asks his followers to join his Telegram channel and pay $500 for this methodology he created to obtain the money. He provides a list of counties that have been affected in Florida and indicates that in order to go through this process one must have “Florida Fulls”, meaning the full package of information on a person (name, number, email, social security, address, etc.). After this brief, the pdf includes step by step screenshots of how to go through the process with this information, answer each question, and file the requirement information.
Throughout the pdf, notes and tips are included for how to fill out or tailor certain question to successfully fill out the application and receive the money.
“First step Go to the link and search your zip code Tap on apply now”
“Input all the information needed!”
“Choose your county here !”
“If you filed it this way, you gonna get paid for sure! Im yo only plug with the sauce here! Join hxxps://t[.]me/+8xVj[redacted] on telegram for More Updates Admin:@G4legend18”
“They will call you to Verify your info make sure you take screenshots! Enjoy! hxxps://t[.]me/+8xVjd[redacted] join and share”
Telegram Channel: Darkweb Updates&Shop
Since FEMA disaster assistance was released, continuous conversations on @nold500’s Telegram about filing with FEMA are occurring. On 30SEP2022 the channel posted that the Hurricane portal was open for Florida along with a screenshot of President Biden’s announcement about the disaster relief he has approved while inviting members of the group to start applying and receive money.
The channel also discusses any errors that individuals might be receiving regarding the application process. One of the members in this channel was experiencing an error involving identification verification. The admin of the channel then took a poll to survey how many other members were experiencing this issue. The poll received 452 views, with 72% responding “yes” to having that same error. Conversations followed the poll attempting to resolve this error which involved the “fullz” or information regarding the person that the TAs are posing as. The admin states that the process is extremely strict and if the fullz do not match the address then you will receive this error. TAs need to make sure they are filling out the house address information accurately with the correct street number, zip code, and county to allow them to continue with the process.
The admin lists out what each individual should do once they get an address from Zillow including doing a full sweep and gathering info on the address, getting the landlords “fullz”, and buying a SSN and file.
The admin then shares a tip regarding what do about the inspectors that drive by to check out these houses for an estimate (with a screenshot example). He says it is better not to answer the phone – if you do they will want to schedule an in-person inspection, but if you don’t, they will assume your phone is damaged or unavailable and will send you $500 in emergency funds. He then mentions that if someone is daring enough to get an inspector to show up at a random house that they have filled out the application with, they are able to get up to $20k, but that it would required a “client” – a willing co-conspirator in Florida – to meet the inspector.
According to the channel, after an individual has filled out the application, it will take four days before they receive any money.
A member of the group also adds in a scenario where the information that is used in the application belongs to a female but the applicant is a male and states that one should enjoy the $500 and forget about picking up the phone when the inspector calls.
Another tip that the admin mentions is for individuals to fill out “other needs assistance” to claim damage done to a vehicle. In this case no inspection occurs and the individual would not have to add an address to the application.
The channel’s admin shares a screenshot of his successfully submitted FEMA application. His tabs indicate that he is gathering information on a “Todd A Welch” which is most likely the person he used to fill out his application. He is searching the name on Spokeo and other people search tools to gather enough accurate information to be able to fill out the application.
Two other screenshots were shared showcasing the approval for assistance and the amount for which they were approved.
Lastly, the admin shares that he will be filing Georgia benefits since Georgia was also affected by the Hurricane and approved for FEMA assistance.
Additional Social Media Posts
As highlighted above in the tutorial, TAs are applying for FEMA assistance using names, addresses and Social Security numbers which they are stealing from survivors or paying for them from individuals that make fake physical and digital IDs. Just like the tutorial stated, “Florida Fullz” are required to go through this process.
User “George Kessel” showcases physical and digital IDs for various states and announces that they are able to provide a digital ID for $100 and a physical ID for $250 with 2 day shipping. These identifications include driver license and social security numbers which are used to obtain the FEMA assistance money.
Other users, like Cinco Bagg, utilized Facebook to advertise their services. This user tells his followers that he can go through this process outlined in the tutorial for them for a fee. The application fee charged is $80 for those affected by the Hurricane and $130 for non Florida residents.