Bogus hurricane damage claims net one guilty plea, another arrest
A Rocky Mount woman pleaded guilty to getting federal disaster assistance she wasn’t entitled to, while a Goldsboro woman is charged with making up hurricane damage in order to bilk her insurance company, authorities said Wednesday.
Sheila Ruffin, 50, pleaded guilty to 15 counts of disaster fraud related to the Hurricane Matthew recovery effort conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, authorities said.
Ruffin submitted fraudulent documents to FEMA and collected more than $11,000 in rental assistance between January 2017 and January 2018 to which she wasn’t entitled, they said. She will be sentenced later.
Meanwhile, agents with the state Department of Insurance have charged Tina L. Whitley with felony insurance fraud.
Whitley, 53, is accused of telling American Bankers Insurance Co. of Florida that flying debris from Hurricane Florence had damaged her mobile home and that she needed to replace her HVAC system, a moldy refrigerator and molding walls, floor and insulation, claiming that her home had been condemned after the storm.
Authorities said damage from debris occurred before the hurricane last September, Whitley had sold her refrigerator, her HVAC system was in perfect condition and that her home had never been condemned.
“Insurance fraud affects our economy,” state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said in a statement. “Not only does it damage insurance companies, it cheats businesses and consumers too. This kind of white-collar crime is unacceptable.”