Outraged Citizens Turn in Katrina Scammers

Aug 29, 2006 2:51pm

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina ordinary Americans led the way in donating money to help with the relief effort. Now many citizens are stepping up and leading the way again to help catch criminals who’ve taken advantage of billions of dollars of Katrina money. Hundreds of calls have been pouring into Katrina fraud hotlines set up by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. David Dugas, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, heads the Katrina Fraud Task Force out of Baton Rouge. He says that 60 percent of the almost 7,000 cases of fraud under investigation came from hotline tips.  "Many times hotlines aren’t that productive," says Dugas.  "Members of the public calling the hotline are clearly outraged about what they’re seeing around the country, and I think that’s why we’re getting so many good calls and so many good leads." Dugas says people have turned in family members, employees, bosses and friends. "We’re receiving reports of all types of fraud," he says. "If the reports have merit, we’re chasing every one down."
So far Dugas and his team have prosecuted close to 400 cases, and new indictments are announced almost daily.  Pastor Randy Millet of St. Bernard’s Parish in New Orleans counsels dozens in his congregation who really have lost their homes and loved ones in Hurricane Katrina. He says he can see why so many citizens are furious at scammers.  "It makes Americans, who are good at heart, that want to give and help, they want their tax dollars to help people…it makes them angry," says Millet. "It makes them feel like we’ve all been betrayed." Dugas says the hotline has become a bright spot in dealing with the most massive case of fraud this country’s ever had. "It’s actually encouraging to me that it seems like for every criminal out there, there’s some honest citizen who’s outraged by the conduct that they’re seeing,” he says “and outraged enough to pick up the phone and call law enforcement and give us the information we need to prosecute these people. Click here to find out how to report Katrina fraud.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus