4Law 15/9/05 01:00 - Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force in USDOJ HQ
Recent history, including Hurricane Ivan and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has shown that some criminals seek to profit from disaster by means of fraud, and recent reports indicate that fraudulent Internet sites designed to lure those seeking to donate to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts have already been posted.
The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force - chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division - includes members from the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the Postal Inspector’s Office, and the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys, among others. The Task Force will be directed to track referrals of potential cases and complaints, coordinate with law enforcement agencies to initiate investigations, match referrals with the appropriate U.S. Attorney’s offices, and ensure timely and effective prosecution of Katrina fraud cases. The Task Force will be national in scope, working with state and local law enforcement and state attorneys general to identify cases, and will report back to the Attorney General on a periodic basis.
“We cannot allow the kindness of Americans to be exploited in this time of disaster and crisis,” said Attorney General Gonzales. “This Task Force will help ensure that those offering a helping hand do not themselves become the victims of fraud, and that the money and support they so graciously and generously offer goes to the intended recipients - the many victims of Hurricane Katrina.”
Crist Sues Website Operator for Unlawfully Soliciting Hurricane Donations
- Attorney General Charlie Crist today filed a civil
lawsuit against Nassau County resident Robert E. Moneyhan
and obtained an injunction prohibiting him from fraudulently soliciting relief
donations intended for Hurricane Katrina victims. Moneyhan,
51, also known as "Demon Moon," allegedly created several Katrina-related
websites, none of which was a legitimate charitable operation.
"While difficult times bring out the best in most people, unfortunately they also bring out the worst in a few," said Crist. "The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina has elicited an agonizing plea for help, and thankfully countless Americans are responding from the bottom of their hearts. The thought that someone would seek to pervert relief efforts when assistance is so desperately needed is truly appalling."
As Hurricane Katrina was gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico after passing through southern Florida, Moneyhan registered domain names for websites. He created katrinahelp.com, katrinadonations.com, katrinarelief.com and katrinarelieffund.com, as well as possible others that are yet unknown. As of August 31, the donations solicited from websites katrinahelp.com and katrinadonations.com were to be directed to Moneyhan's private Paypal account. Moneyhan did not file registration documents with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to solicit donations, as required by law.
Moneyhan also misrepresented that "100% of all donations used for relief." Due to customary transaction fees charged by Paypal, this guarantee is not possible to honor, resulting in violations of advertising laws. Investigators with the Attorney General's Office determined that none of the websites represents a legitimate charity and no funds donated to Moneyhan's sites would reach Hurricane Katrina victims.
Moneyhan has changed the websites so they no longer solicit contributions, but now appear to offer the website names for sale to the highest bidder. Through quick actions taken by the Attorney General's Office and Paypal, Moneyhan was prevented from capitalizing on his scheme. Today's injunction will prevent Moneyhan from any further website modifications that would unlawfully solicit donations for his personal benefit.
The lawsuit was filed in Nassau County Circuit Court under Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Moneyhan faces penalties of $10,000 per violation.
1 4Law`s Example Case - Katrina scam artist picked up by police
NILES --A former member of the Michigan National Guard is suspected of a scam to collect money and rescue gear to help hurricane victims. Dressed in army fatigues, 31-year-old Jayson Wing of South Bend was arrested for having a concealed weapon. What wasn't concealed was in the back seat of the car he was in; about a half dozen boxes and tubes, all labeled for the "United States Civil Relief Services. "Michigan State Police found homemade donation boxes inside a car they stopped Monday night for a traffic violation. Police on Tuesday may have interrupted a Katrina scam by three National Guard impostors whose disregard of spell check may have hastened their discovery. During a 3 a.m. EDT traffic stop, Michigan State Police from the Niles post became suspicious of the men who were transporting collection containers for Katrina victims. Two of the men wore military clothing, and their boxes, while looking legitimate, carried the name of a fictitious federal agency and included noticeable misspellings of the words "Louisiana" and "personnel. "Typewritten notices on the boxes sought donations for "Louisanna" that would be collected by "military personel only," said 1st Lt. Michael Brown.They found all the donation boxes in the vehicle and two people dressed-up in camouflage like military uniforms,” said Lt. Michael Brown, Michigan State Police. One of the men, Wing, was a member of the Michigan National Guard, but hasn't been since April of last year. He claimed the men were collecting money and a whole list of things to help hurricane victims; bolt cutters, chain saws, axes, and even air compressors. (13/9/05 – wund.com & southbendtribune.com)