PAGO PAGO, AS -- Fraud is a rare occurrence during disaster recovery. However, if it does occur, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a responsibility to take action.
People who intentionally try to defraud the government are taking money away from those who truly need assistance. FEMA must ensure that taxpayer dollars go only to people who incurred legitimate losses. This may include prosecuting anyone who makes a fraudulent claim.
Most cases where possible fraud is detected are not deliberate attempts to defraud the federal government. FEMA recommends that applicants receiving grant money keep receipts to show how funds were used.
Anyone with information about individuals—maybe a contractor, or inspector, or disaster survivor, or someone posing as any of these—who may have defrauded the government in connection with the earthquake/tsunami disaster, should call the FEMA Fraud Hotline local number at (684) 633-3768. The call is completely confidential.
For individuals who feel they have made a mistake in reporting their damages or losses, FEMA encourages them to call the disaster assistance helpline at 684-633-0920, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time, Monday through Saturday. They can also visit FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) at the Lee Auditorium in Utulei. The DRC is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
FEMA’s Office of Inspector General routinely audits individuals, local governments and nonprofit organizations that receive FEMA disaster assistance funds. The audits are independent assessments to determine whether recipients spent the funds according to federal regulations and FEMA guidelines. Auditors look at expenditures on ineligible items or instances of duplicate payments from insurance companies or other sources.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.