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Katrina & Rita Relief – Not Millions, but $1.4 Billion was Bogus

Today’s New York Times reports that “(a)s much as $1.4 billion in government disaster aid to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita – nearly a quarter of the total – went to bogus or undeserving victims, a new Congressional investigation concludes.” For example, “a man stayed more than two months on the government tab at a hotel in Hawaii that cost more than $100 a night. At the same time, he was getting $2,358 in government rent assistance, even though he had not been living in the property he claimed was damaged in the storm.”

“FEMA also provided cash or housing assistance to more than 1,000 prison inmates, totaling millions of dollars; one inmate used a post office box to collect $20,000 . . . In another case, 24 payments, totaling $109,708, were sent to a single apartment, where eight people each submitted requests for aid eight times, each time using their own Social Security numbers.”

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the fraudulent payments could range from $600 million to $1.4 billion, but the most likely amount was $1 billion, or 16% of the $6 billion of aid that was distributed. Sheesh! GAO report (full report and one-page highlight; both require Adobe).