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Press Release

Diplomatic Security Services Arrests Individual For Impersonating A Federal Officer At The International Luis Muñoz Marin Airport

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – “Yesterday we announced the Task Force that will be working against the fraud related to Hurricane Irma recovery efforts, and today we are announcing what appears to be the first case in the District of Puerto Rico related to Hurricane Irma’s relief efforts,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez for the District of Puerto Rico.


United States Magistrate Judge Camille Vélez-Rivé authorized a criminal complaint against Philip Freed, charging him with impersonation of a federal law enforcement officer, entering an airport in violation of security requirements, and false statements. The U.S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Services (DSS), with the collaboration of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are in charge of the investigation.


According to the criminal complaint, on September 12, 2017, Philip Freed falsely pretended to be a law enforcement officer acting under the authority of the United States. Freed gained access to a federally restricted area of the Airport and made materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations to DSS special agents during the course of the investigation, all while portraying to be a federal law enforcement officer helping with Hurricane Irma’s relief efforts.


“The Diplomatic Security Service is firmly committed to working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate this crime,” said Richard Hays, Resident Agent in Charge of the DSS San Juan Resident Office. “Impersonating a federal law enforcement officer while our nation reels from the recent natural disasters is especially concerning. Our special agents – many of whom still do not have power in their homes – showed exceptional professionalism and dedication as they pursued this case.”


If convicted defendant faces up to 3 years of imprisonment. A criminal complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty. Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc S. Chattah has been assigned to prosecute this case.


Again, members of the public are reminded to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before trusting anyone purporting to be working on behalf of disaster victims.


Updated September 15, 2017

Disaster Fraud