Couple discovers fraudster applied for their FEMA benefits

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A new scam targets homeowners looking for FEMA assistance following Hurricane Irma.

It's possible fraudsters could be making off with money meant to help those who truly need it.

Jerry and Ginny Rogers live in St. Petersburg and say someone applied for FEMA assistance in their names. 

"It's just somebody out there that's ripping people off,” Jerry Rogers said.

The couple found out the funds they were hoping to receive from FEMA instead ended up in the hands of a thief.

“I was scared they had our ID and they might have a lot of other people's ID's,” said Ginny Rogers.

The couple says winds from Irma hit their Pinellas County home, knocking down their wooden privacy fence. Days later, Ginny went online to a disaster assistance website and tried applying for federal dollars to help them fix it.

But when she entered her husband's social security number on the site, she discovered there was already a claim.

“Don’t know how much they got. Really don't care but it's just somebody [who has] my identity,” said Jerry.

Confused and irritated, the couple fixed parts of the fence themselves. But there's still more to go and money is tight.

“It's very a big burden I didn't have a paycheck for a week and a half and trying to repair the things just to keep our dog in the yard,” said Jerry.

FEMA officials sent us a statement saying in part, “We have no reason to expect that this is widespread. FEMA must ensure that taxpayer dollars go only to people who incurred legitimate losses.”

Now the family is concerned with the fact their personal info has been compromised, and fear they could be ripped off again in the coming months.

“Now that they have our information they can take our income tax like they were doing last year,” said Ginny.

Anyone caught filing a false claim can be subject to fines and could face up to 10 years in prison.