When Carlton McNish reported to authorities that his wife died on 9/11 at the World Trade Center, police and charities rushed to help McNish along with so many others who had lost loved ones.
McNish received over $100,000 from charities including the Red Cross, but the charity and the NYPD became suspicious when McNish had trouble spelling his wife's name.
This afternoon on Capitol Hill, the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hear the tale of Carlton McNish and other fascinating examples of just how far some people will go to rip off the government and private charities in a time of tragedy.
Leroy Frazer Jr. of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office describes McNish's story.
On Oct. 3, 2001, McNish told the New York City police that his wife went to work at Cantor Fitzgerald on 9/11 and never returned home. Four days later, he gave the city medical examiner's office some DNA from a hairbrush and filled out an affidavit so he could get a death certificate. His wife's name was included on the city's official list of missing persons, and her name appeared on the World Trade Center Memorial list.
Next, McNish applied for help from the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and a group called Safe Horizon. He was given $68,000 from the Red Cross, $30,000 from Safe Horizon, $1,000 from the Salvation Army and $5,000 from the Robin Hood Foundation because his wife's name was on the Mayor's list of missing persons.
In Nov. 2001, McNish went to a Bronx funeral home to arrange for a memorial service for his "deceased wife." The memorial program featured a picture McNish had supplied and some words about the life of "Jasclliny McNish." The funeral home helped McNish apply to the Crime Victim's Assistance Board to get funds to pay for the service. He also sent the funeral bill to the Red Cross and Safe Horizon, and he got a total of $6,279 from them.
But the Red Cross started getting suspicious, and the NYPD launched an investigation because McNish was having trouble spelling his wife's name and providing information on her employment. It was later determined that McNish had invented a wife and that, in fact, he was not married at all. McNish is now behind bars on charges of grand larceny.