Three area congressional representatives are urging federal officials to investigate “an outrageous con job” involving scam artists trying to steal the personal information of Sept. 11 first responders and survivors.
Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford), Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) asked the Federal Trade Commission Friday to open a probe into the scam in which the caller pretends to be a member of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
“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 caused many cases of PTSD in this community,” the lawmakers wrote in an April 20 letter to Maureen Ohlhausen, acting chair of the FTC.
“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.”
FTC spokesman Frank Dorman said Monday the agency does not comment on requests for investigations.
The congressional representatives say individuals, using several different aliases and phone numbers, have targeted 9/11 first responders, their families and attorneys.
The scammers state that they work for the compensation fund, which provides benefits to those suffering with long-term health ailments from the 2011 terror attacks, and ask questions about the status of an individual’s claim, according to fund officials.
The callers then state that the individual may be entitled to money, and ask for personal information to mail a claim package or to file a claim on the individuals’s behalf, officials said.
In an interview Monday King said he would consider asking the state attorney general and Manhattan district attorney’s office to begin investigating the calls.
“This has all the elements of a crime,” said King, who was not aware of any victims to the con. “It’s evil and despicable.”
The Victim Compensation Fund posted a notice on its website last week alerting individuals to the con and asking them to document details of any suspicious calls. Staff, the notice said, follow a standard protocol for verifying a claimant’s identity and will not ask for a full Social Security number.