Monday, October 24, 2005
The Department of Justice's Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force issued a press release (here -- through the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas) outlining the focus of the investigatory and prosecutorial effort to address frauds related to disaster relief from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- and no doubt Hurricane Wilma will be added to the list if it causes significant damage. The Task Force has brought forty cases since early September, not only in districts directly affected by the hurricanes but also as far away as California and Oregon. The types of cases the Task Force is concentrating on are :
- Fraudulent Charities: Cases in which individuals falsely hold themselves out as agents of a legitimate charity, or create a “charity” that is in fact not legitimate;
- Identity Theft: Cases in which the identities of innocent victims are stolen and assumed by criminals who convert the funds of, or otherwise defraud, the victims;
- Government-Benefit Fraud: Cases in which individuals file false applications seeking benefits to which they are not entitled;
- Government-Contract and Procurement Fraud: Cases in which individuals and companies engage in fraud related to federal funds provided for the repair and restoration of infrastructure, businesses, and government agencies in the affected region; and
- Insurance Fraud: Cases in which false or inflated insurance claims are filed.