Sunday, March 04, 2007

Should recent prosecutions for fraud in Katrina remind us of something?

Bruce Alpert, of the Times Picayune did an excellent article about a lot of recent prosecutions for fraud in the aftermath of the hurricane disasters.

One woman, LaWanda Williams collected $267,377.15 in an identity theft scheme using several other people's information.

I wonder if any of the people (who had their information stolen) were denied benefits, as a result of LaWanda's activities?

And LaWanda is just one example of people's greed. FEMA and Army Corps of Engineers officials, Red Cross employees and many others took advantage of the situation.

In fact, fraud was being committed as far away as California, where 71 cases have been documented.

Bruce Alpert's article, here.

Bruce's article points out that this isn't the first time fraud occurred after a disaster. Similar fraudulent claims occurred after 9-11 and the Tsunami disaster.

The money lost to fraud is a symptom of the larger problem, which was a disaster preparedness system that failed. The resulting confusion enabled a lot of fraud to occur, and probably made it too easy to commit.

I doubt any of the people now being prosecuted thought they were going to be caught.

As the old saying goes - "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Our focus needs to be towards preventing this from happening again.

If you would like to learn more about the hurricane disaster - and how how people are still being "cured" two years after the fact - Beyond Katrina has a lot of information on the subject.

No comments: