Lawyer: BP ‘Gestapo’ Sends Fraud Notices Just Before Closing for Holiday

Platform supply vessels battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. A Coast Guard MH-65C dolphin rescue helicopter and crew document the fire aboard the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, while searching for survivors. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126 person crew.

The claims office for giant British oil company BP has reportedly sent thousands of notices to US Gulf Coast state residents and businesses accusing them of fraud, prior to Christmas vacation.

Thousands of residents and businesses in states heavily impacted by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster are receiving a metaphorical lump of coal from the multinational corporation. The company claims office sent mailed “fraud notices” accusing the recipients of filing fraudulent claims for damages from the spill.

Following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010, a sea-floor oil well gushed for 87 days, before being capped in July, in what is is considered the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The federal government estimated the total discharge at 4.9 million barrels, much of which arrived onshore, killing local fish populations and other water-dependent wildlife, destroying beaches, and eviscerating the seafood and tourism industries.

The overall economic impact of the spill has been estimated well into the tens of billions of dollars with businesses going under and tens of thousands of people losing their livelihood. The travel industry is believed to have lost $23 billion as a result. The fishing industry has been affected by as much as $2.5 billion.

However, BP and some government regulators contend that many claims against the company were fraudulent. Those who make such claims without proper proof of the impact they suffered are subject to criminal prosecution.

The BP claims office sends notices accusing claimants of making false statements in order to receive remuneration. Normally, those notices go out in small batches daily but, according to recipients, the company sent out thousands on Wednesday night, just before closing for the holiday season.

This has led to accusations that BP is attempting to bully people who have valid claims.

“If the goal was to scare people and get them to drop their claims, they will probably achieve that,” said Tom Young, a Florida attorney whose clients received 75 of the notices Wednesday night, according to USAToday. “The timing of it is absurd, and the fact that it’s a kind of Gestapo, closed-box system is outrageous. They’re basically telling my clients and thousands of others, ‘You might go to jail, we’re not telling you why and, by the way, we’re closed. Merry Christmas.'”

About Carmen Munir Russell-Sluchansky 360 Articles
Carmen is a multimedia journalist based in Washington, DC whose work has appeared in a variety of outlets including National Geographic, NBC News, the BBC, Asia! Magazine, The China Post, Chicago Tribune and Orlando Sentinel.