Fraudulent Storm Claim Demolished

Close-up Of A Businessperson's Hand Giving Cheque To Colleague At Workplace

Florida resident Deannajo White pleaded guilty in Jacksonville on January 2020 to disaster fraud for FEMA claims she submitted following Hurricane Irma in 2017. She faces up to 30 years in federal prison, plus restitution to the United States.

In September 2017, White applied for disaster benefits, claiming her primary residence was uninhabitable because a tree fell through the roof. (But it was actually her story that was full of holes.) She submitted fraudulent documents to FEMA to bolster her claim, including phony rent receipts, leases and letters.

On August 13, 2019, law enforcement agents interviewed her about her disaster assistance application, confronting her with evidence that she lied on it. She then admitted to making false statements and submitting multiple false documents to FEMA. (Sounds like the truth is a fresh breath of air for this scammer.)

Her case is part of the United States Attorney General’s Disaster Fraud Task Force, and was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Florida’s Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office and Gilchrist County Sheriff’s office.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, “Suwannee County Woman Pleads Guilty to Submitting False Claim for FEMA Benefits Related to Hurricane Irma,” published Jan. 27, 2020.

Jacksonville, Florida – Deannajo White (39, Suwannee County) has pleaded guilty to disaster assistance fraud. She faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison, plus payment of restitution to the United States.

According to court documents, on September 27, 2017, White made an application for disaster assistance benefits to FEMA over the internet. In the application, White claimed that her primary residence in Branford, Florida had suffered storm damage due to Hurricane Irma, when a tree fell through the roof, forcing her to leave the residence and begin living at a rental property in Branford. White subsequently contacted FEMA and stated that she had moved to a different rental property with a higher rent. White submitted multiple documents to FEMA in support of her application, including rent receipts, leases, and letters.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.