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Yesterday BP announced the creation of a company-controlled toll-free number it says is dedicated to rooting out fraud in the Court-Supervised Deepwater Horizon Claims Process. By dialing 855-NO-2-FRAUD whistleblowers can report perceived bad actors to BP’s private police force.

While all parties agree that the filing of false claims based on cooked or doctored books should be identified and dealt with harshly, that is not the real goal behind BP’s new phone number. BP’s true intent is to frighten otherwise legitimate claimants out of filing claims they are rightfully entitled to pursue under the settlement agreement formulas developed by BP, agreed to by BP, and attested to under oath by BP.

If anyone’s ethics should be questioned it should be BP’s. The company helped design a specific architecture which residents and business owners of the Gulf were to govern themselves by when making claims for damages after BP’s unprecedented Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Now BP has decided that it no longer cares for the compensation formulas it developed, and the company hints in no uncertain terms that those making claims based on such formulas are committing fraud. It is a shameful attempt to manipulate the court of public opinion when the court of law has found that BP has no right to change the rules midway through the game.

Nowhere in BP’s “public service announcements” about their private fraud hotline did the company mention that there is already a toll-free number dedicated to this very purpose. The Gulf Coast Disaster Fraud Hotline has been in operation for months and is overseen by a truly legitimate and neutral third party – The Honorable Carl Barbier, Federal District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana who presides over the settlement program.

The Gulf Coast Disaster Fraud Hotline can be reached by dialing 877-623-3423. While the official court operated fraud hotline does not have the slick (pardon the pun) vanity number secured by BP’s public relations gurus, it is nevertheless the number whistleblowers should call when they suspect true fraud in the claims process.

The fact that BP created its own private vanity number when the Court already had such a hotline in place is indicative of the utter lack of respect this company has for our judicial system. It is an implicit indictment of the character of Judge Barbier, Claims Administrator Juneau and all of the legitimate business owners along the Gulf Coast who are living by the rules as BP wrote them.

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