Massive post-hurricane FEMA fraud found

June 14, 2006 at 7:51 AM

WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- A U.S. congressional study has found as much as $1.4 billion in disaster aid after two Gulf hurricanes last year was given to fraudulent recipients.

The Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday said the figure represents about one-quarter of the funds issued through the Federal Emergency Management Agency after hurricanes Katrina in August and Rita a month later, The New York Times reported.

The GAO report cited one person who collected 26 payments totaling $139,000 using 13 different Social Security numbers even though public records show the person did not live at any of the addresses reported as damaged.

The report said more than $5 million went to people who had provided cemeteries or post office boxes as the addresses of their damaged property.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House subcommittee leading the inquiry and also a former federal prosecutor, said he was disgusted with the findings, and called them "shocking and appalling," the Times reported.

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