In the largest alleged BP oil spill-related scam uncovered to date, federal authorities on Thursday charged two Floridians with taking $340,000 in funds intended for victims of last year’s environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Justice Department officials said Joseph Harvey, 51, and Anja Kannell, 41, of Delray Beach, Florida, appeared in federal court in Miami on Thursday to face indictments for mail fraud, wire fraud and aggressive identity theft. Prosecutors said the defendants claimed the money from a $20 billion fund set up to help legitimate victims of the spill recover lost income.
Justice officials said they have brought charges in at least 30 cases in which individuals tried to recover funds to which they were not entitled. This was the biggest case yet, according to the Justice Department.
Harvey and Kannell are accused of filing phony claims using 34 assumed identities of actual Florida residents. These claims were complete with names and Social Security numbers, though they had fictitious addresses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Officials say the defendants instructed that all the funds be sent to an account they controlled in Texas.
Anyone wonder why the paperwork in disaster recovery and aid continues to grow beyond reason? Fact remains that a significant, small portion of our populace is dedicated to ripping off our tax dollars. [Yes, I mean beyond the Republican and Democratic parties]
Given the checks and balances introduced as part of the IT updates by the Obama administration, I have a sense that the arrest rate for crooks like this is getting better. Which means that Congress will probably try to cut the budget.