It’s almost inevitable that after every major disaster some individuals will try to profit from the situation; therefore, it came as no real surprise when Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced charges against 22 people for falsely filing for death certificates claiming that members of their family died in the attacks on the WTC so they could obtain emergency relief funds.
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly joined Morgenthau in filing the charges. According to their statement 14 of the defendants “actually obtained a total of $759,465 in relief funds based on their fraudulent claims; the other 8 were caught before they received any funds.” 13 were NY residents, while the other 9 were from outside the state, one as far away as China.
The bulletin gave details of each case. A typical case was was that of a Michigan man, who collected $272,800 from the Red Cross and Safe Horizon by claiming his brother had died in the attacks. In fact he used a fictitious name, and collected the money himself. A Chinese man collected $10,000 for the loss of his wife, who was actually alive and well in Japan.
Morgenthau issued a statement saying that “The people who have been arrested tried to cash in on a terrorist attack on America. Our investigations showed that con artists from New York and around the nation took advantage of the country’s generosity after of the attacks on the World Trade Center. This outrageous conduct will be met with the full force of the law. We will vigorously pursue each and every one of these cases, as well as any that we uncover in the future.”
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