Several victims of the tornadoes that moved through the Miami Valley on Memorial Day have received notices from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that they were overpaid disaster relief funds.
The agency says a total of six individuals, so far, have received notices of potential overpayment.
FEMA officials say there are a number of reasons overpayments could have been made, including simple data errors, or duplication of benefits. A duplication could occur if, for example, someone received FEMA relief funds and also received insurance money for a similar loss claim.
FEMA could also request reimbursement or repayment from storm victims if the agency determines funds were improperly spent. And finally the agency says they will demand returns on money that was granted to a fraudulent claim made by someone unaffected by the storms.
Erin Gaddis with FEMA says the agency could not disclose the specific reasons individuals in Ohio were overpaid, or how much money the agency is asking to be returned.
“So, if they feel that they've received the letter in error they have 60 days to appeal the notice of potential debt letter," she says. "And then after that 60 days, once it’s submitted to FEMA, applicants should expect a response from us within 90 days of the receipt of that appeal."
Gaddis urges caution, saying FEMA would only contact survivors by letter if overpayments were believed to have been made, and that no FEMA agents would contact individuals by phone or in person to demand repayment of funds. She says any scam attempts that should be reported to FEMA fraud tip line at 1-866-223-0814.