Spring has given way to summer and both seasons have been chock full of heavy storms. While we think Mother Nature is the only thing to fear as tornados and hurricanes run roughshod over the country, we should remember that the fraudsters targeting disaster relief fraud can pack an even bigger punch to taxpayers. According to a WTVA article, one Mississippi fraudster found more than a tornado barreling down on him after he participated in a disaster fraud scam.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is making efforts to improve its ability to provide disaster relief assistance by implementing new application methods and mobile device apps, as well as disaster relief centers to provide individuals with the necessary information needed to apply for benefits. (It’s infuriating to see some people ripping off disaster relief benefits when FEMA is making such a good effort to help those in need.) After a bad storm had ripped through Okolona, Mississippi on April 27, 2011, a Mississipppi fraudster saw an opportunity to cash in. According the court documents, the man claimed a home in Okolona to be his primary residence. He reported to FEMA the home was damaged during the storm and applied for disaster relief benefits.
While the fraudster expected to find a pot of gold labeled “FEMA Benefits,” under the rainbow, he received a little more than he bargained for. A two count indictment explained the home was not the primary residence of the fraudster, so he was ineligible for benefits. Despite being ineligible, the man took the money as part of his scam on the U.S. government aid system. A judge sentenced him to time served, five years probation and ordered him to repay $30,400 in restitution, which he has already paid in full.
This criminal was looking for a sunnier day full of flowing cash, courtesy of the U.S.A. Unfortunately the storm clouds of justice were building in the horizon, barreling down his lies with a windy vengeance.