A Storm of Fraud

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Spring and summer bring along unstable weather to the United States, sometimes birthing tornadoes in the areas between the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains. We cringe when the news features the tornado damage of a string of severe storms, depicting structures and lives torn apart by Mother Nature. While many of us sympathize with the victimized towns and cities, some fraudsters find opportunity in the rubble, according to a Walker Magazine article.

Alabama is no stranger to severe weather; common to the beautiful south are the small and large scale twisters that wreak havoc through towns and cities statewide. In April 2011, a strong storm front pushed through Alabama, spouting tornados that amassed significant damage to large parts of the northern portion of the state. One Birmingham resident exhibited his right as a citizen to apply for disaster relief fraud after the storm’s passing; the only problem was that the man had received no damage to merit federal financial assistance. (Ladies and gentleman, we call this disaster relief fraud. This is no act of Robin Hood’s taking from the rich to give to the poor, this is just theft.)Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Walker County Man Sentenced for Disaster Fraud,” published by Walker Magazine on February 8, 2013.

BIRMINGHAM — A federal judge Thursday sentenced a Walker County man to two years in prison for fraudulently claiming $30,200 in federal disaster relief funds following the April 2011 tornadoes across North Alabama, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr. and Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge James E. Ward.

Donnie Lee Burleson, 38, must pay $30,200 in restitution to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and serve five years of supervised release after completing his prison term, according to the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.