When it comes to the different kinds of fraud out there, some are certainly worse than others. Some kinds of fraud are so heartless that you have to wonder how these criminals can go through with it. Disaster fraud is one of those. How can someone willingly take money away from someone who lived through a disaster and is trying to piece their life back together? Though many of us can’t understand it, Infozine.com features a story about three individuals who pleaded guilty to fraud related to benefits from the Joplin tornado.
The article reports that by falsely claiming that their property had been damaged by the storm, these individuals, in separate and unrelated cases, collected between $938 and $5,628 in public assistance. Much of the information listed by these individuals on their Federal Emergency Management Agency benefit applications was simply fictional. (Hard to fix a roof if it doesn’t exist.)
Part of the problem is that there isn’t a whole lot of time from when a disaster strikes to when the applications start flooding in to check up on the veracity of a benefit recipient’s claims. The humanitarian urge in most of us immediately thinks “how terrible!” instead of “maybe these guys are fraudsters.” It’s sad to think that someone would even dream of defrauding this system, but hey, the world is a scary, scary place.
Each of the defendants is subject to up to 30 years in prison in addition to a fine of $250,000. (Floggings anyone? No? OK.)
What’s important here is that the people who need the benefits should receive them. Contrary to popular belief, authenticating and validating the identity of a claimant doesn’t have to be a time consuming process. By leveraging identity-based filters, agencies can generally can quickly learn whether there is a potential for fraud in the claim.
So, here’s the question for the day: do you think it makes sense to leverage identity-based filters to verify the identities of individuals claiming disaster benefits?