When the Wrong Opportunity Knocks

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Sometimes we miss opportunities even though they are right in front of us. For example, a rejected invitation to attend a happy hour with co-workers may have provided an introduction to a new friend or a possible job opportunity within your company. (But you’ll never know because you didn’t go.) On the other hand, wrong opportunities can come knocking as well. (Obviously, these are the ones you should avoid.) An article published on NJ.com states that several opportunists allegedly used Superstorm Sandy to bilk the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of money intended for qualified recipients.

The story states that four New Jersey residents allegedly filed fraudulent applications to receive money from FEMA following Superstorm Sandy, which struck the state in October 2012. One man and his girlfriend allegedly filed three claims with the government agency stating they were forced to relocate to a rental home following Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy. They are charged with submitting fake leases and receipts. (They purportedly received $30,000 in rental assistance.)

Another man is accused of applying for FEMA and state grants while claiming his primary residence was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Authorities claim that the residence is a secondary home. (Damaged second homes are not eligible for FEMA funds.) He reportedly received more than $115,000.

Last, but not least, another man supposedly filed for FEMA and state grants, claiming his damaged vacation home was his primary residences. (As you can imagine, authorities believe the damaged home is not his primary residence.) He allegedly received $13,000 in government funding.

The charges against the accused include conspiracy, theft by deception and unsworn falsification. The story reports that these four have been added to a list of 12 other individuals who also allegedly filed for federal funds intended for qualified disaster relief beneficiaries.

It’s important to remember that these four people are innocent until proven guilty. Even so, the cases are instructive: they tell criminals that the authorities are on the look-out for disaster fraud and they serve as cautionary tales for jurisdictions that may someday be hit by a disaster. These prosecutions, however, remind us all that it is good to let some opportunities pass by.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Superstorm Sandy Fraud Charges Filed Against 4 More N.J. Residents,” written by Jessica Beym and published on NJ.com on September 17, 2014.

Four N.J. residents are facing fraud charges for filing for federal relief funds related to Superstorm Sandy, bringing the number of people charged up to 16, the Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.

Those charged allegedly filed fraudulent applications for money offered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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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.