Hurricane Ian was one of the most powerful storms in U.S. history to hit the Florida coast. In the Fort Myers area alone, homes were ripped from their slabs and shredded wreckage was strewn through the city streets.
Businesses near the beach were completely razed, leaving twisted debris. Broken docks floated beside damaged boats and fires smoldered on lots where houses once stood.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, viral Facebook posts said anybody could receive up to $3,000 and get all expenses paid if they made their way to Florida to help with cleanup.
“Storm clean up jobs in Tampa fl $3000 a week they pay for room and food‼️thank me later 281-330-8004 ask for Mike,” one Facebook post with 59,000 shares said.
Are the viral Facebook posts claiming someone can get paid to help with Hurricane Ian cleanup legitimate?
No, the Facebook posts claiming someone can get paid to help with Hurricane Ian aren’t legitimate.
WHAT WE FOUND
The viral posts circulating on Facebook are known as copypasta memes. Copypasta is internet slang for a block of text that gets copied and pasted repeatedly.
The phone number listed with the memes is not associated with Hurricane Ian cleanup efforts at all; it’s a phone number made famous by rapper Mike Jones.
Jones used the number, which was his real number, in many of his song lyrics; most notably, his 2005 song “Back Then.” In 2020, he posted on Instagram that it was once again his phone number.
When VERIFY tried calling and texting the number, the phone number was not in service.
Even though those posts aren’t legit, there are still ways to help the victims of Hurricane Ian. Here are some resources:
- The Florida Disaster Fund is the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist Florida’s communities after a disaster. Volunteer and donation opportunities can be found on the website.
- The Red Cross has information on how to help.
- Disaster Relief at Work (DRAW) has people on the ground and is accepting donations and supplies.
- Project Hope, another humanitarian organization, is also accepting donations and has issued a call to action for volunteers, especially medical professionals, to help.
In an email to VERIFY, Project Hope said memes like this circulate in nearly every disaster, and they aren’t aware of any organizations offering compensation to help with cleanup.
To report suspected fraud connected to Hurricane Ian, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at 1-866-720-5721. If you need to report other fraudulent activities during or following a natural disaster, please notify FEMA at 1-866-720-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.