- $5.2 million to Los Angeles-area residents for the 2003 wildfires that burned more than 25 miles away.
- $168.5 million to Detroit residents for a 2000 rainstorm that the then mayor doesn't even remember.
- $21.6 million in clothing losses alone to Cleveland residents for a 2003 storm that brought less than an inch and a half of rain.
The investigation was started after FEMA distributed 31 million in Hurricane Frances claims to residents in South Florida that hadn't been exposed to the hurricane. Since then there has been evidence uncovered that defrauding FEMA is considered easy and done from coast to coast.
The Sun Sentinel examined 20 of the 313 disasters declared by FEMA in the years 1999 through 2004. Of the 1.2 billion paid, 27 percent of the money went to areas that had suffered no, or little damage in the disaster.
According to the article, in some of the so-called disaster areas, residents were openly discussing how to defraud FEMA and even passing damaged goods from house to house.
Ultimately, this indicates to me that FEMA is desperately in need of an overhaul, which should include some serious auditing and oversight to ensure that the services they provide are effective. Besides demonstrating a total lack of financial management, this ultimately hurts the entitlements made to the people, who are really victims.
After reading this, it isn't very surprising what happened in the Katrina disaster.
Daily, we hear of fiscal emergencies within our governments. The money for these programs comes from the people, who pay taxes. It is becoming apparent that those who choose to defraud and the government agencies that exercise poor management need to held accountable.
In fact, it's possible that if we fix these problems now, it might even help save lives in the next disaster. If we are spending this many resources (human and financial) paying out fraudulent claims, it has to be a drain on their ability to service the people, who really need the help.
You can read the full story courtesy of the Gainesville Sun (without my commentary) by clicking on the title of this post.