1. Hurricane

Scammer for fraudulent Hurricane Dorian relief fund poses as Denis Phillips, meteorologist says

The ABC Action News chief meteorologist, known for his hurricane rules, warned followers about the scam in a Facebook post.
Someone posing as forecaster Denis Phillips is asking people for money for a fraudulent hurricane relief fund. [Facebook]
Someone posing as forecaster Denis Phillips is asking people for money for a fraudulent hurricane relief fund. [Facebook]
Published Sep. 3, 2019
Updated Sep. 3, 2019

Click here to read this story in Spanish.

Hurricanes can bring out the best in people: welcoming evacuees into their homes, helping neighbors clean up or rebuild, volunteering to assist with relief efforts.

They also can bring out the worst: fights over water or gasoline, looting, price-gouging.

At the nexus of the two are scammers preying on people’s generosity for their own personal gain.

RELATED: High pressure: TV meteorologists try to predict an unpredictable Dorian

A particularly devious example surfaced Monday.

ABC Action News chief meteorologist Denis Phillips, whose frequent posts are a source of comfort for many during hurricane season, posted on Facebook that someone posing as him had asked people for money to fund a fraudulent Bahamas hurricane relief site.

I can't believe I have to write this, it's so disheartening. Someone has created fake posts, looking like me, and is...

Posted by Denis Phillips on Monday, September 2, 2019

In a post published around 10 p.m. Monday, Phillips warned his Facebook followers about the scam, cautioning, “DO NOT SEND THEM ANY MONEY.” He shared a link to a story about trusted sites and organizations where people can donate to help hurricane victims.

“I can’t believe I have to write this,” Phillips began. “This is so disheartening.”

Phillips is known for his hurricane rules, intended to lessen hype about approaching storms and “ease a few folks minds," he writes on his Facebook page. He is best known for his rule No. 7: “Stop freaking out ... until I tell you to. We’re fine.”

RELATED: Dorian got you thirsty for Crooked Thumb’s Denis Phillips beer? Good luck finding a can

2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

What Michael taught the Panhandle and Tampa Bay

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind


  1. Sea rise is pushing inland and amplifying the threats from hurricanes, wiping out one of the rarest forests on the planet in the Florida Keys. [MATIAS J. OCNER  |]
  2. Flooding from an October king tide in Miami Shores fills streets, sidewalks and driveways at its peak. [Miami Herald]
  3. From left, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos speak at a summit held by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's Resiliency Coalition on Tuesday at the Hilton Carillon Park in St. Petersburg. [LANGSTON TAYLOR]
  4. The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) aboard NOAA's GOES East captured this view of Hurricane Dorian overnight on Sept. 4, 2019. The GLM continually looks for lightning flashes in the Western Hemisphere, both on land and nearby ocean regions and can detect all three major lightning types: in-cloud, cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. Alongside radar and other weather satellite data, lightning information helps forecasters understand when a storm is forming, intensifying and becoming more dangerous. [NOAA]
  5. Ridge Road in Pasco County currently ends at Moon Lake Road. The county wants to extend it 8 miles to link to the Suncoast Parkway and then to U.S. 41 in Land O' Lakes. [Tampa Bay Times]
  6. Denis Phillips, chief meteorologist for ABC Action news (WFTS-Ch. 28 ), center, serves cookies to Griffin Frank, of Tampa, right, while hosting a fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network with hot chocolate, popcorn, Doubletree Chocolate Chip cookies and even a few homemade Rule #7 Wine glasses, on Saturday, December 14, 2019, at his home in Palm Harbor. At left is Denis' wife, Robyn Phillips, and at right is his son, Josh Phillips, 16. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
  7. Hurricane Dorian left homes in ruin in the Bahamas. [FERNANDO LLANO  |  AP]
  8. The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center shows the storm moving toward the northeast out to sea. [National Hurricane Center]
  9. Tropical storm Sebastien has developed in the Atlantic and now has an 80 percent chance of turning into a tropical cyclone. [National Hurricane Center] [National Hurricane Center]
  10. Forecasters with the National Weather Service estimate that the system has a 50-percent chance of developing into a tropical or sub-tropical depression during the next 48 hours. [National Weather Service]
  11. Mos Antenor, 42, drives a bulldozer while clearing the road after Hurricane Dorian Mclean's Town, Grand Bahama, Bahamas on Sept. 13. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) [RAMON ESPINOSA  |  AP]
  12. The projected path of Tropical Storm Olga [National Hurricane Center]