Twisting Facts


On May 22, 2011, a catastrophic tornado touched down in Joplin, Missouri and left a path of destruction nearly a mile wide across the southern part of the city and two adjacent counties, causing nearly $3 billion in damages. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center (SPC), the twister currently ranks as the costliest tornado in U.S. history. Following the devastating event, tens of thousands of claims poured in, including three fraudulent applications for disaster relief funds – all from the same man, as reported by

The 58-year-old Joplin man filed for disaster relief four days after the twister touched down, claiming a secondary residence where he stored personal property was damaged. The man’s claim was denied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but he didn’t take no for an answer. So, he submitted documentation two more times that purported the damaged property was his primary residence. (If they won’t believe me the first time when I’m telling the truth, I’ll just twist the facts and say it’s my primary residence. Maybe they didn’t keep track of my first application?)

Needless to say, FEMA kept good records and subsequently, he was convicted the man of disaster fraud and making false statements to FEMA. He was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison without parole, plus two years of supervised probation.

Just as the 2011 tornado was the third tornado to strike Joplin in 40 years, the fraudster tried three times to swindle some undeserved disaster relief funds from FEMA. (It looks like the ”three strikes and you’re out rule” applied in this case.) There’s no telling when the next tornado might strike, but at least this fraudster will be safe in jail with a roof over his head for the next 18 months.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on the article titled, ”Joplin Man Sentenced Without Parole For Disaster Fraud,” written by Priscilla Mace and published on on September 5, 2013.

SPRINGFIELD, MO— Scott Bradley Olsen, 58, of Joplin was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison without parole, followed by two years of supervised probation. Olsen was convicted for making false statements to FEMA in a failed attempt to get federal disaster benefits following the May 2011 tornado.

Olsen filed for disaster assistance, claiming a Joplin residence was his secondary residence where he stored property that was damaged in the tornado, but FEMA found him ineligible for assistance. After being denied, Olsen twice submitted documents to FEMA in an attempt to prove the property was his primary residence. Olsen was again denied.

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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.