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Katrina Relief Funds Misused

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posted on Jun, 14 2006 @ 03:10 PM
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supplied debit cards were used to purchase a variety of unnecessary goods and services valued in excess of one billion dollars. The debit cards were intended to provide victims of Katrina the means for food, shelter, and clothing. The list of misuses range from Champagne, and Hawaiian resort stays, to a sex change operation.
The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found.

Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to evidence. Agents from the Government Accountability Office even informed Congress that one man apparently used FEMA assistance money for a sex change operation.

The findings are detailed in testimony, obtained by the Associated Press, to be delivered at a House hearing Wednesday.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

This may only be the tip of the iceberg regarding fraud and abuse in the wake of hurricane Katrina; and is a further indictment of the ineptitude of FEMA. The inability to properly screen and manage the victims of this disaster further amplifies a need for a complete overhaul of FEMA, and begs further review of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) structure. There's little hope that any meaningful restitution for the abuses are possible, and prosecution of those perpetrating these frauds is unlikely.

Related News Links:

Related Discussion Threads:
Post katrina Fraud: FEMA assistance Spent on Sex change

[edit on 14/6/2006 by Mirthful Me]

posted on Jun, 14 2006 @ 05:14 PM
This is just the tip of the iceberg.

The FBI has been working overtime ever since, trying to get a handle not only on the misuse and abuse of funds provided by FEMA, but also fraud stemming from phony charities.

It's really, really sad, but whenever there's a disaster, the scammers come out of the woodwork. The more chaos and misery, the better it is for them.

It's by no means an American problem, we saw the exact same thing happening in Sumatra after the big quake not too long ago. One of the programs implemented was free boats for fishermen disenfranchised by the tsunami. Sure enough, most fishermen got no free boat, and a very few got dozens. :shk:

People are oppurtunists, and are nothing if not predictable.

That's actually a very good thing, from the perspective of the state. If we utilize the knowledge available to us, and take steps to sting the scammers immediately in the wake of these events, the authorities can have a head start.

Usually relief efforts are the first thing on everyone's mind, and that's fine. But effective relief is what's needed, and in order for that to happen, authorities have to prepare to deal with the frauds and the cons. They can definitely take a more pro-active role in heading these criminals off at the pass, so to speak.

Of course the media will have a field day if the FBI conducts sting operations in the midst of a tragedy, but that's not a good enough reason to hold off taking action. The FBI's job isn't to be well liked, it's to be effective. To be most effective, they have to focus on their end of the relief efforts from day one.

The biggest problem that I see is maintaining the balancing act, between speedy relief and effective relief (with sufficient oversight to prevent widespread abuse). It's a challenge, no doubt about it, but it can't be ignored.

For the most part, in recent disasters, relief has been neither speedy nor effective - so what do we have to lose? I really think the overall quality and quantity of aid would be drastically improved if the FBI jumped in along with the first shipments of bottled water and MREs.

Anyway, here's a couple of links to threads dealing with fraud in the wake of Katrina, for those interested.

posted on Jun, 14 2006 @ 05:17 PM
This how we can see the extent of attention that authorities are giving to the use of public funds.

While many families are still waiting for help others even got money to be use for sex change.

I can not get that one out of my mind.

posted on Jun, 14 2006 @ 05:27 PM
Here is the FEMA Assistance application page:

Nowhere do I see the usual disclaimers about eligibility, or what will happen if you submit a fraudulent claim (don't the Feds usually love that kind of stuff?).

posted on Jun, 14 2006 @ 05:30 PM

Originally posted by Mirthful Me
Here is the FEMA Assistance application page:

Nowhere do I see the usual disclaimers about eligibility, or what will happen if you submit a fraudulent claim (don't the Feds usually love that kind of stuff?).

When you actually start applying you get the warnings. And when you get the paperwork, that's about all there is on it! lol If I find mine, I'll black out my info and provide a picture. Its just a matter of finding it in all the paperwork!

posted on Jun, 14 2006 @ 06:52 PM
This is sad, but it is also predictable. FEMA was attempting to help as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, without the burden of excessive proof of eligibility. It was inevitable that scam artists would take advantage of their goodwill.

If FEMA had demanded more proof of eligibility, they would have been accused of being miserly, tight-fisted, and uncompassionate.

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