Sandy victim says FEMA fraud costing her big bucks

Nina Pineda Image
Friday, April 8, 2016
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7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda reports.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (WABC) -- This family has a familiar story. Flooded out by Sandy, only got $14,000 from FEMA, even though it will cost nearly a hundred grand more to fix their house. Now they say they were victims of fraud in the review process.

Darrell Wade is dumb-founded. His cancer stricken mom's Atlantic City house was underwater during Sandy. He says a FEMA adjuster documented all the damage from the floors to the furnace, yet they only got a fraction of their claim.

"I've been doing this a lot of years and this is clear simple fraud," said Augustus Matteis, the Wade's attorney.

The Wades got $14,000 from FEMA the first time around and were offered even less, $12,000 more in the Sandy Review Process, despite presenting evidence their attorney says proves someone altered FEMA's adjuster's report.

"It's a sham, the entire review process is a sham," Matteis said.

FEMA'S initial report shows damage to the Wade's house.

"The adjuster who comes out takes a picture of the furnace and writes right here, flood waters damages water heater and boiler," Matteis said.

But in another report two weeks later, there's "no damage" to the boiler.

"Nobody came out in between they simply changed the description," Matteis said.

Then the floor goes from "damaged" in the first report.

"Somebody literally just typed in a 'u' and an 'n' so it went from damaged to undamaged," Matteis said.

"That's just blatant fraud and that's why for the second time now I've called for the head of FEMA to resign," said New Jersey Congressman (R-3rd district) Tom MacArthur. He says FEMA relied on the same fraudulent reports for the review process resulting in thousands of homeowners being underpaid a second time.

"I want to know who directed engineers and adjusters to underpay claims its' too broad to have happened accidentally somebody directed it and I want to know who," MacArthur said.

The Wades want the same answers, although they're running out of time. The same year Sandy hit and Barbara retired, she was diagnosed with lymphoma now in Stage 4. Her hope is that the home she worked so hard to maintain will still shelter her family once she's gone.

"Even if my mom didn't have cancer I felt as though they should still do at least what they said they were going to do," Wade said.

FEMA told 7 on your side it's working with the Wades on a daily basis to see that she is paid every penny due. It also said, it's taken unprecedented steps to reopen and review claims and it's paid out over $77 million in under-payments.