Private nonprofits, including churches, that are requesting aid under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance program for damage related to Hurricanes Irma and María should be aware of con artists and others who may attempt to engage in fraudulent activity, the agency stated.
The applicants should know that this kind of activity can happen any time during the recovery process. Fraudulent activity includes people posing as official disaster aid workers or people who provide misleading application process information to entities seeking disaster-related assistance.
Applicants that are currently in the Public Assistance process should be aware of potential fraudulent practices and report any suspicious activity or possible fraud. Potential fraudulent practices may include:
• Presenting falsified federal or non-federal documentation;
• Illegal and misleading representations;
• Impersonating FEMA personnel or official disaster aid workers;
• Encouraging abuse of federal programs;
• Promises about facilitating the disaster grant process in exchange for money;
Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, text or in person, FEMA warned.
“Applicants should recognize and protect themselves against questionable practices. It is important to know that FEMA does not endorse any commercial businesses, products or services and will never ask for money or other forms of compensation,” the agency said.
“Always ask a person that identifies themselves as a FEMA employee to show you their identification badge. Federal employees always wear an official government badge to identify themselves,” it added.