Hello, folks.  Today we are going to take a look at our fraud forecast.  We currently see that individuals have made a habit of taking advantage of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund.  Luckily for you FEMA, we are looking at some good weather ahead, accompanied by a force of federal, state and local officials searching for fraud offenders.  This just in:  according to one of our KOAM 7 articles, a Missouri woman faces storm clouds ahead after admitting to committing disaster fraud.

Weather disasters are prevalent during the change of the seasons.  If you remember the horrific tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011, you witnessed Mother Nature’s destruction at her finest.  While we can’t control Mother Nature, our government (FEMA) has developed assistance for individuals who find themselves victim to her wrath. (Let’s clarify that victim does not include EVERYONE who wants/needs money.) One Missouri fraudster failed to understand the definition of victim and used a recently passed relative’s destroyed home to her benefit.

The fraudster admitted to applying for FEMA disaster relief benefits after the events of the 2011 Joplin tornado, claiming her home and property had been damaged in the storm. (Again, clarifying that if this was actually her home, it would be perfectly legal and acceptable.) The woman actually met a FEMA inspector at a damaged property, where the home and property were assessed to be damaged. What the fraudster neglected to relay to the government inspector was that this home was actually her recently deceased grandmother’s home – not her own. (Sorry Grandma, but I saw an opportunity and ran with it….to jail.) She received $3,596 of which $2,658 was for loss of personal property and $938 for rental assistance. (Loss of PERSONAL property – it wasn’t hers.) The fraud was discovered when the fraudster’s aunt, an actual resident of the grandmother’s home filed a claimed for assistance that was denied.  A judge sentenced the fraudster to 14 months in prison without parole, five years of supervised release and the repayment of $3,596. (You survived the first storm, now you’ve created another that will last for over six years.)

I wish I could predict sunny days for the convicted fraudster, but when you bring on a hurricane of trouble, the only thing I’ll suggest is a raincoat…and maybe not to commit fraud the next time.  Well, that’s all the time we have for today folks.  Stay away from fraud and stay sunny readers.

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