Jim Kouri
February 28, 2006
Taxpayers ripped off by Katrina victims
By Jim Kouri

In a report on Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita cash disbursements to victims of these devastating natural disasters, it was discovered that one-in-three "victims" defrauded the government taxpayers in obtaining financial assistance in the aftermath of the disasters.

The report reveals that some victims double-dipped and collected twice, while others bought items such as pornography, guns and other items not usually believed to be emergency assistance.

As a result of widespread congressional and public interest in the federal response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, General Accounting Office conducted an audit of the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) under Comptroller General of the United States statutory authority.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed homes and displaced millions of individuals. In the wake of these natural disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency faced the challenge of providing assistance quickly and with minimal "red tape," while having sufficient controls to provide assurance that benefits were paid only to eligible individuals and households.

In response to this challenge, FEMA provided $2,000 in IHP payments to affected households via its Expedited Assistance (EA) program. Victims who received EA may qualify for up to $26,200 in IHP assistance. As of mid-December 2005, IHP payments totaled about $5.4 billion, with $2.3 billion provided in the form of EA. These payments were made via checks, electronic fund transfers, and a small number of debit cards.

The GAO identified significant flaws in the process for registering disaster victims that leave the federal government vulnerable to fraud and abuse of EA payments. For Internet applications, limited automated controls were in place to verify a registrant's identity.

However, they found no independent verification of the identity of registrants who registered for disaster assistance over the telephone. To demonstrate the vulnerability inherent in the call-in applications, the GOA used falsified identities, bogus addresses, and fabricated disaster stories to register for IHP.

The GOA found that FEMA's automated system frequently identified potentially fraudulent registrations, such as multiple registrations with identical social security numbers (SSN) but different addresses. However, the manual process used to review these registrations did not prevent EA and other payments from being issued.

Other control weaknesses include the lack of any validation of damaged property addresses for both Internet and telephone registrations. Given the weak or non existent controls, it is not surprising that GAO data mining and investigations to date show the potential for substantial fraud and abuse of EA.

Thousands of registrants misused Social Security Numbers used SSNs that were never issued or belonged to deceased or other individuals. The case study investigations of several hundred registrations also indicate significant misuse of SSNs and the use of bogus damaged property addresses.

For example, investigators' visits to over 200 of the case study damaged properties in Texas and Louisiana showed that at least 80 of these properties were bogus including vacant lots and nonexistent apartments.

They found that FEMA also made duplicate emergency aid payments to about 5,000 of the nearly 11,000 debit card recipients once through the distribution of debit cards and again by check or electronic funds transfer. We found that while debit cards were used predominantly to obtain cash, food, clothing, and personal necessities, a small number were used for adult entertainment, bail bond services and weapons purchase, which do not appear to be items or services that are essential to satisfy disaster related essential needs.

While the news media carp about the slow emergency aid response and the hardships faced by victims of Katrina, civil-rights leaders put a racist face on the disaster, with the media more than willing to provide a platform to the race-baiters. However, don't hold your breath for the mainstream news media to inform Americans that they're being ripped off.

© Jim Kouri

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

Subscribe

Receive future articles by Jim Kouri: Click here

Latest articles

August 18, 2014
Boko Haram terrorists kidnap dozens of Nigerian boys and men


August 5, 2014
Iranian leaders: Jews are heirs to Nazis, Israel must be eliminated


July 30, 2014
House report advises eliminating IRS commissioner job, ACA management


July 20, 2014
Hamas rockets found hidden in United Nations school in Gaza


July 12, 2014
Texas lawmaker, governor blame Obama for creating 'refugee camps'


July 7, 2014
Lawmakers, Border agents call for deportations of 'Obama's kids'


June 16, 2014
VA scandal: Obama administration seeking identities of whistleblowers


June 13, 2014
Obama using Border Patrol agents as babysitters for illegal alien teens


June 8, 2014
Obama's views on Muslim terrorism fly in the face of reality: Report


April 11, 2014
Al-Qaeda chief mourns slaying of bin Laden's friend in Syrian conflict


More articles

 

Alan Keyes
'A Bucket Brigade': The most simple, feasible way to take back America!

Stephen Stone
A path to impeachment

Alan Keyes
Perry's plight highlights liberty's real crisis

Larry Klayman
Sowing seeds of our own destruction

Alan Caruba
Witnessing a failed presidency

J. Matt Barber
How we told our kids about sex

Rev. Austin Miles
Obama vacations while Marine rots in Mexican jail!

Lloyd Marcus
Peterson Vazquez, my Hispanic patriot brother hero

David Huntwork
Meet Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: the leader of ISIS and the new caliph of the Islamic State

Matt C. Abbott
The church, politics, and the unborn; On predators and narcissism; Prayers for Cardinal George, Paul Likoudis

Ellis Washington
Muslim Brotherhood = Devout [not radical] Islam, Part II

Curtis Dahlgren
BACK TO SCHOOL: "Beware education deluxe" (Part 2)

Rev. Mark H. Creech
Labor Day: 'the plowing of the wicked'

A.J. Castellitto
WAR MACHINE, Inc. (Fighting for the Gods of War)
  More columns

Cartoons


Michael Ramirez

DaleToons

RSS feeds

News:
Columns:

Columnists

Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Bonnie Alba
Jamie Freeze Baird
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites