Sunday, June 18, 2006

FEMA Fraud, or a Creative Solution?

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee held meetings this past week on Katrina fraud, waste, and abuse, and cited over a billion dollars in -- well, fraud, waste and abuse. The whole situation was certainly bungled by government officials and taken advantage of by unsrupulous civilians.

But among the discussion of incarcerated individuals getting FEMA checks, debit cards used for massages and strip joints, and double payments for housing, one interesting item was mentioned. Apparently some enterprising soul used relief money to put a down payment on a house in Georgia.

Is that really fraud? Or is it just a really creative solution to a personal crisis? Think about it -- the money was used for housing, which was needed after the disaster, but instead of ensconcing oneself in a hotel for months at a time and sweating out FEMA payments, this savvy individual bought a home, thus coming up with a permanent solution. Presumably he or she also went out and found a job and began a new life to be able to make the paymnts on the home.

I don't know the specifics of the situation; I hope that the person who bought the home was a genuine victim of Katrina and eligible for the help rather than an opportunist uninvolved in the original disaster. If so, I don't think we should pursue this individual for fraud, but give him or her a pat on the back and say, "More power to you!"

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