God Bless our government. They bent over backwards to try and help after Hurricane Katrina only to have a large percentage of people work the system. The GAO audit reports are out and its not surprising that the payment program was filled with corruption and theft.
Here are some examples of what was found:
- As of March 2006, over 90 percent of money funded to the debit card program has been used by recipients to obtain cash which did not allow the GAO to determine how the money was actually used.
- Examples of debit card purchased goods and services that did not appear to meet legitimate disaster needs - The understatement of the week!
Jewelz - Arlington, TX - Diamond jewelry including watches, earrings, and a ring $3,700
Vacation Express - Atlanta, GA - All inclusive 1 week Caribbean vacation resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic $2,200
Lesea Broadcasting - South Bend, IN - Donations to a faith based charity $2,000
New Orleans Saints - New Orleans, LA - 5 New Orleans Saints football season tickets $2,000
Mark Lipkin Attorney - Houston, TX - Divorce lawyer services $1,000
Legends - Houston, TX - Gentleman's club $600
The Pleasure Zone - Houston, TX - Adult erotica products $400
Hooters - San Antonio, TX - Alcoholic beverages including $200 bottle of Dom Perignon champagne $300
GGW Video - Santa Monica, CA - Girls Gone Wild videos $300
Alamo Fireworks - San Antonio, TX - Fireworks $300
- As of May 26, 2006, FEMA can only account for 10,608 cards of the 10,989 cards JPMorgan Chase claimed that it has distributed. As a result, FEMA cannot properly account for 381 debit cards, worth about $760,000.
- Rental assistance payments were sent to individuals living in FEMA-paid-for hotels! Here are a couple of the more egregious examples:
Marriott Courtyard - (Lafayette, LA) - Registrant stayed at hotel from September 2005 to February 2006 at a cost of $109 to $122 per night. FEMA paid registrant two rental assistance payments in September 2005 and December 2005. Rental Assistance total: $5,208 - Hotel Payments total: $18,000
Ramada Plaza - (Corona, NY) - Registrant stayed at hotel from September 2005 to March 2006 at a cost of $149 per night. FEMA paid registrant rental assistance in September 2005. Rental Assistance total: $2,358 - Hotel Payments total: $31,000
- FEMA paid millions of dollars to over 1,000 registrants who used names and SSNs belonging to state and federal prisoners. Here are a few examples:
Case 1 involves a convicted felon, housed in a Louisiana prison from April 2001 to the present, who registered for assistance by telephone. FEMA paid over $20,000 to the registrant even though the damaged property address on the registration was a post office box address and the registrant was incarcerated throughout the disaster period.
Case 2 involves a registrant who has been incarcerated in a Mississippi correctional facility since 2004. The registrant used his name and SSN over the telephone to apply for and receive $2,000 in expedited assistance and $2,358 in rental assistance. The individual listed his correct current address, at the prison, to receive these payments.
These are just a handful of cases that permeate the "disaster" relief effort. There is potentially $1 billion in waste and fraud that is under review!
Guess what? Its hurricane season again...