Feds Pursuing Fraud Charges Against Oil Spill Claimants in 5 States

December 21, 2010

A woman was indicted last week in the Eastern District of Louisiana for allegedly filing fraudulent claims for compensation due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Four other individuals were also charged last week in Alabama, Michigan, and Mississippi for fraud related to oil spill compensation claims, in addition to two defendants previously indicted on Nov. 22 and 24 in Texas and North Carolina.

“The charges send a strong message that we will not tolerate any fraudulent activity designed to profit from this tragic oil spill,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. “The Department of Justice and federal law enforcement agencies are placing a high priority on the prompt investigation and prosecution of all forms of fraud related to this disaster.”

The most recent indictment charges Cam T. Hang with one count of mail fraud. The indictment alleges that Hang filed a claim with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for $42,000 for business losses resulting from the oil spill. According to the indictment, Hang falsely stated she was doing business as C.H. Food Mart Inc., a seafood restaurant, and submitted fraudulent information claiming that her business experienced loss of income as a result of the oil spill, when in fact it did not.

In the Southern District of Alabama, two individuals were charged in separate criminal complaints. Travis P. Sigler was charged with wire fraud for allegedly submitting fraudulent pay stubs in support of a $13,000 claim made to the GCCF for lost income due to the oil spill. According to the complaint, the fraudulent pay stubs exaggerated the amount of his income for the purpose of increasing the amount received from his claim. Maria Wright was charged with mail fraud for allegedly filing fraudulent documents in support of her claim to the GCCF for $20,000 in lost income due to the oil spill.

Four other individuals have been charged with crimes related to fraudulent claims of compensation. In the Eastern District of Michigan, Kevin Hall was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed on Dec. 8, 2010, with one count of wire fraud. Hall allegedly falsely claimed to BP that he suffered $9,000 in lost business revenue as a result of the oil spill. On Dec. 7, 2010, an indictment was filed in the Southern District of Mississippi, charging Dennis L. Moore with wire and mail fraud.

According to the indictment, Moore allegedly submitted false documents—including a false Mississippi tax identification number, false state tax returns, a false Mississippi Department of Revenue Business Permit, false federal tax returns and false sales receipts—in support of claims totaling $180,000 to the GCCF and to BP for compensation relating to the oil spill.

An indictment filed in the Southern District of Texas on Nov. 22, 2010 charged Sergio Corona with wire fraud. The indictment alleges that the defendant filed a claim with BP for $28,434, asserting that he had lost income because of the oil spill, but submitted false and fraudulent receipts and invoices in support of his claim.

Charlette Dufray Johnson was charged in a superseding indictment filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina on Nov. 24, 2010 with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with her claim to the GCCF. According to the indictment, Johnson allegedly submitted a claim under the name and identity of her deceased sister, falsely claiming to have worked for and been terminated by a company in New Orleans. The indictment also charged her with false claims to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in connection with her previously filing 12 false claims for disaster assistance, totaling $76,666, relating to Hurricane Katrina, a California wildfire, and Tennessee and Georgia storms.

“The FBI is committed to seeking out and prosecuting individuals who commit fraud to obtain compensation intended for those who suffered losses as a result of the spill,” said FBI Assistant Director Perkins. “We will continue to pursue disaster fraud whenever it occurs.”

The cases are a result of coordination between the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF).

Source: FBI

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