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How screwed up is this....only in the US do special government funds like these wind up being used for Champagne at Hooters.

Audit finds $1.4 billion fraud in Katrina pay outs
By Sam Knight and agencies

As much as $1.4 billion intended for the victims of Hurricane Katrina was squandered on expensive hotels, sports tickets, a sex-change operation and a divorce, American government auditors will say today.

Investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will testify to a congressional inquiry that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) was tricked thousands of times into parting with money allocated for survivors of the disaster.

Based on a sample of applications for emergency assistance, investigators believe that as much as 16 per cent of the entire fund was lost to fraud, with applicants using false addresses and social security card numbers to receive money to rebuild houses that had never existed.

"Our forensic audit and investigative work showed that improper and potentially fraudulent payments occurred mainly because Fema did not validate the identity of the registrant, the physical location of the damaged address, and ownership and occupancy of all registrants at the time of registration," GAO officials said.

Eye-catching examples of fraudulent spending include an $8,000, two-month stay at a hotel in Hawaii, a $1,000 divorce in Houston, a bill for champagne at "Hooters", a strip bar in San Antonio, Texas, and a week-long luxury holiday in the Caribbean.

One applicant managed to defraud Fema no fewer than 26 times, according to the GAO testimony, using 13 different social security numbers, including his own, to receive $139,000. Dozens of people applied for aid claiming they lived in cemeteries while around 1,000 prison inmates also received money, including one who was awarded $20,000. One man was paid more than $2,700 to repair his letter-box.

The report comes as another damaging blow to Fema, which was severely criticised for its slow and chaotic response to the disaster, which flooded New Orleans and killed more than 1,300 people when it struck America's Gulf Coast last August.

The agency has already passed on 1,500 cases of fraudulent applications for a total of $16.8 million to prosecutors, but today's report puts the total fraud much higher. The GAO will claim today that $5.3 million alone was paid to applicants who claimed their post box address was in fact a damaged house.

Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas, chairman of the House subcommittee investigating Fema spending after the hurricane, called the fraud "an assault on the American taxpayer".

"Prosecutors from the federal level down should be looking at prosecuting these crimes and putting the criminals who committed them in jail for a long time," he said.

Among the more embarrassing accounts of false applications to Fema was one from a GAO investigator, who received $2,358 to help him pay his rent after using a false address. Several other GAO investigators also made successful fake applications, but never cashed their cheques.

Ahead of today's hearing, a Fema spokeswoman said that the agency's priority had been to help those in need, and that all those suspected of fraud would be referred to the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general. The agency paid thousands of Katrina victims a total of $26,200 to rebuild their lives after the disaster.

"Even as we put victims first, we take very seriously our responsibility to be outstanding stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we are careful to make sure that funds are distributed appropriately," the spokeswoman said.
this really makes me mad...

I'll leave it at that.
More heads should have rolled over this..Michael Brown became the scapegoat,but the book I'm reading shows that he was in over his head,he should never have been put in that position,and that's Bush's fault and others in the administration...Michael Chertoff,the Head of Homeland Security that FEMA now falls under was aloof and distant during all of this.He should have been fired.
most of the $2000 amounts given out were after the 'credit cards' were used.....can you imagine if there was an accounting for ALL of the $2000 amounts people spent? I guarantee we ALL know someone who took a trip or did something purely luxury with the dough....

Once it is co-mingled in your checking account it is hard to say this money went for that item....but with the cards you could.
a sex change operation ?
Oh yeah, I read about this in the local paper yesterday. Can't say I'm the least bit surprised! Not one bit!!!
people who get sex changes aren't really changing their sex. just hacking things up a bit...slightly disturbing.
wwstewart Wrote:people who get sex changes aren't really changing their sex. just hacking things up a bit...slightly disturbing.

AHH....more than I wanted to read....:omgwtf: :drink: /thumbup
they are changing there appearance to match there brains.
TallahasseeLassie Wrote:they are changing there appearance to match there brains.
And that is supposed to mean....? Goes both ways dear./thumbup
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