Two Timing the Government

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10418214 - small house and piggy bank with stacks of hundred dollar bills isolated on a white background.

When we hear that someone is accused of ”two-timing,” it’s usually in the capacity of dating. However, two-timing isn’t exclusive to the dating world; rather, fraudsters have taken a liking to the activity, according to a Galloway Patch article.

After the nor’easter of March 2010, New Jersey spent time recovering from the damages sustained in the storm. With recovery, came the opportunity to defraud the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the government agency responsible for distributing disaster relief aid to those in need. One New Jersey woman found her home uninhabitable after the storm and filed a request for aid with FEMA. The agency approved the request and agreed to pay $923/month. So, if FEMA found the application to be approved, where is the fraud?

The fraudster in this case neglected to provide FEMA with pertinent information about who was paying for the residence that had been destroyed. (Yes, some may call it stealing to receive benefits for a home you aren’t paying for.) An investigation discovered that her rent was paid for by the Atlantic County Department of Family and Community Development. But, her lies did not stop there. She also admitted to lying to the Housing Authority and Urban Redevelopment Agency of Atlantic City, neglecting to report her assistance to them from FEMA and the Atlantic County Department of Family and Community Development. (She took two-timing to a completely new level!) She faces up to 35 years in prison, as well as fines of up to $500,000.

This two-timing fraudster could write the book on lying. I’ll be keeping an eye out for her New Jersey style how-to guide on defrauding agencies by her two-time lies. With up to 35 possible years in prison, she will have a long time to perfect her masterpiece.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Atlantic City Woman Pleads Guilty to Defrauding FEMA,” published by the Galloway Patch on March 7, 2013.

A 51-year-old Atlantic City woman plead guilty to disaster benefits fraud and making false statements to the the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Thursday afternoon, March 7.

Debbie Hick faces a mazimum penalty of 35 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 for lying on Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) forms to collect $15,691 in aid she was not entitled to after her apartment was damaged as the result of a nor’easter in March of 2010. In April of that year, she filed a claim seeking assistance through FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, according to Fishman.

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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.