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Puerto Rico Private Nonprofits Requesting FEMA Public Assistance Should be Aware of Fraud

Release date: 
November 26, 2019
Release Number: 
DR-4339-PR NR 401

GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico Private Nonprofits, including Houses of Worship, that are requesting aid under FEMA’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.


These 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.


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. 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.


Anyone who suspects fraud or scams should call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. The toll-free number is open 24 hours a day.


For more information on Puerto Rico’s recovery after Hurricane María, visit





Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) 711/VRS - Video Relay Service). Multilingual operators are available. (Press 2 for Spanish). TTY call 800-462-7585.


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Last Updated: 
November 26, 2019 - 13:56