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State Launches Investigation Into Alleged Scam Targeting NY Rising Applicants

LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Some Sandy victims on Long Island say they've been targeted by a wolf in sheep's clothing.

As 1010 WINS' Mona Rivera reported, Sandy victims who applied for state aid through the NY Rising program began getting emails recently soliciting fees from a group calling itself NY Rising Consultants.

State Launches Investigation Into Alleged Scam Targeting NY Rising Applicants

Lindenhurst homeowner Michele Insinga, with the South Shore Recovery Coalition, said dozens of people began complaining about getting suspicious emails.

"I was like yea, another one, another scam," she said. "And now they're making it look as if it's NY Rising when we know that it isn't."

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, an email to the Sandy victims directed them to the NY Rising Consultants website, complete with a logo closely modeled after that of the state's NY Rising program.

"I'd think it's an official website, and it's not," said State Sen. Phil Boyle, (R-Bay Shore).

Boyle said the lookalike logo may represent a deceptive trade practice.

"They're looking for help, they're desperate, they're frustrated and we have some individuals, evidently, trying to make a quick buck on their misery," Boyle said.

Insinga said she's concerned some Sandy victims may have been duped.

"We are extremely concerned that some people may in fact have called or contacted them," she said.

Now, Boyle and Sandy victims who received the emails want to know how the alleged scammers obtained access to NY Rising applicants' emails in the first place.

"You really need to safeguard personal information," Insigna said. "People are upset and they have every right to be."

On its website, the company claimed it employed former workers with the state program.

"Was it an inside job? Where did they get the names? Where did they get the emails? To make sure they didn't take them with them if they were working there. That's clearly against the law," said Boyle.

Insigna notified the state of the emails. State officials issued a cease and desist letter to the company, shut down the NY Rising Consultants website and launched an investigation.

Boyle said Sandy victims should ignore email offers for consulting services because state lawmakers have staff members working to resolve NY Rising issues at no cost to homeowners.

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