Spilt Milk

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19929194 - closeup of $100 dollar bills

Are you familiar with the saying, ”There’s no use in crying over spilled milk?” The bottom line is, crying won’t ”unspill” the milk. Many fraudsters seem to shed a couple tears when they are facing a judge who is ready to sentence them for their spilled milk. According to an article in The Times-Picayune, one fraudster found herself in a little trouble over spilled oil, not milk.

Perhaps you recall the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which resulted in copious amounts of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico? The effects of the spill were massive, spreading from damage to economic welfare to animal welfare to individual welfare. (People know the devastation, and yet, they still find a way to defraud the government who is trying to help.) One Louisiana woman found herself oiled up in a sticky situation of her own when investigators discovered she was responsible for a fraud scam claiming a loss of $8,640 from the spill. According to court documents, she claimed she lost her job as a cook in a seafood restaurant following the spill and wired false earning statements to a disaster relief organization to qualify for aid. (She should be out there with her community, helping them clean up. She shouldn’t be defrauding organizations that step up to help.)

She pleaded guilty to wire fraud, admitting she submitted the false earning statements to the disaster relief organization. She received $5,900 for the claimed loses of $8,640. (Cashing in on more than 50% of what you didn’t even lose.) Officials discovered she cashed the check and spent all of the money. (Shopping spree! She’s going to need some new shoes with all that spilt oil lying around.)

The investigations were led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, brought forward as part of the Eastern District of Louisiana’s partnership with the National Center for Disaster Fraud. The fraudster faces up to 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and fines of up to $250,000. (Max her out!)

I’m sure this fraudster will come crying to the stand, claiming she is sorry for her actions following the oil spill. If I were the judge, I’d tell her? ”There’s not use in crying over spilled oil, or the disaster fraud that comes with it.” Grab a cookie, a glass of milk and prepare yourself for jail.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Slidell Woman Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud in Aftermath of BP Oil Spill,” written by Heather Nolan and published by The Times-Picayune on April 19, 2013.

A Slidell woman who claimed she was a cook at a seafood restaurant and had lost her job as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizondisaster pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to wire fraud, admitting she received money after wiring false earning statements to a disaster assistance organization, according to U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente’s office.

Keishandra Houston, 36, faces up to 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and up to a $250,000 fine when she returns to court for sentencing on July 25.

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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.