Splitting the Cost of Fraud

21610268 - woman taking some letters from mailbox

There are lots of things that are common to share with a friend, such as a bill for sushi, the cost of a cab ride or a banana split. An article posted on NOLA.com tells about a woman who took advantage of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following a natural disaster and split her illegally-gained financial benefits with a friend.

The story states that the woman’s home was damaged during the summer of 2012 when Hurricane Isaac hit the State of Louisiana. According to court reports, she received more than $17,000 in financial assistance from FEMA over a 13-month period of time by submitting bogus rent receipts and a phony lease. (Her friend helped her prepare the phony documents, claiming she was renting a house from the friend’s brother-in-law.)

Authorities discovered the fraudulent transactions after someone blew the whistle. (Apparently, the woman was receiving the FEMA benefits checks while actually living in her own home. So, perhaps the hurricane damage was not as bad as originally reported.) The story goes on to say that the woman originally reported that she had moved out of her house approximately two years after the storm, then admitted she applied for rental assistance because the initial compensation from FEMA was not enough. (Fraudsters can never get enough money. They always want more.)

The woman pleaded guilty to one count of fraud plus four counts of theft of government funds. She is facing a maximum of 70 years in prison for her illegal acts.

While this woman intended to share the fraudulently gained government benefits with her friend, she ultimately learned that it is usually not a good idea to scam the government and then split the proceeds with a buddy. Neither the government nor honest abiding taxpayers are usually interested in going ‘halfsies’ on the bill for fraud. (I’m pretty sure her friend will not be interested in splitting her prison sentence either. It looks like she will be paying the full price for her illegal actions on her own.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Harvey Woman Pleads Guilty to $17,000 FEMA Fraud,” written by Andy Grimm and posted on NOLA.com on July 30, 2015.

A Harvey woman who fraudulently received a year’s worth of rent from FEMA after her house was damaged by Hurricane Isaac has pleaded guilty to federal charges, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite announced Thursday (July 30).

Jennifer Williams received more than $17,000 in rental assistance from FEMA following the 2012 the storm, using a phony lease and rent receipts, according to court records. Williams was in fact staying with a friend, who helped her create the phony lease for another Harvey house that belonged to the friend’s brother in-law.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.