US Attorney urges public to report suspected Hurricane Fiona relief fraud
United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the District of Puerto Rico urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to disaster relief operations and federal funding for victims of Hurricane Fiona by calling National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or the NCDF’s website for complaints.
In coordination with federal and local law enforcement partners, the US Attorney’s Office will investigate and prosecute hurricane relief schemes. The NCDF Hotline can receive and enter complaints into a centralized system that can be accessed by all US Attorneys, as well as Justice Department litigating and law enforcement components to identify, investigate and prosecute fraud schemes, he said.
Muldrow also cautioned those “unscrupulous and predatory individuals and organizations who use this tragic event to take advantage of those in need and who seek to illegally profit from this natural disaster at the expense of the good and hard-working residents of Puerto Rico.”
“The United States Attorney’s Office will aggressively prosecute those who commit disaster-related fraud, including those who willfully attempt to delay or disrupt the delivery of critical supplies to those in need, including water, gasoline, diesel fuel and other materials, so that they can unjustly enrich themselves,” said Muldrow.
“We also take this opportunity to thank our first responders and those who have selflessly helped their neighbors and others in need. It is that spirit of resilience and compassion that typifies Puerto Rico,” he said.
“Disaster Fraud and related acts of corruption hurt those who need it most in their time of greatest need. This should shock everyone’s conscience and move anyone who witnesses such acts to immediate action,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office, Joseph González.
“The FBI is on alert, and we encourage anyone with information on disaster fraud and/or any related acts of corruption, to call 787-987-6500 or leave a tip online by visiting Tips.FBI.Gov – Don’t let criminals steal Puerto Rico’s chance to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Fiona,” he said.
Some examples of disaster-related fraud schemes include:
- Impersonation of federal law enforcement officials.
- Identity theft.
- Fraudulent submission of claims to insurance companies and the federal government.
- Fraudulent activity related to solicitations for donations and charitable giving.
- Fraudulent activity related to individuals and organizations promising high investment. returns from profits from recovery and cleanup efforts.
- Price gouging.
- Theft, looting, and other violent crime.
The agencies reminded the public “to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of disaster victims. Solicitations can originate from e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings and telephone calls, and similar methods.”