FEMA fraud case hits close to home

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 26, 2006

The indictment of a Greenville woman for allegedly fraudulently obtaining disaster assistance from FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is another sad reminder of how some people take advantage of other's misfortunes for personal gain.

Alethia Adrianne Scott, 39, has not been convicted, but federal prosecutors allege that Scott received $26,000 for filing false damage claims on a non-existent trailer in Stockton. She has been charged with four counts of theft of government property and could face up to 40 years in prison.

Whether Scott is guilty or not remains for a court of law to decide. The majority of Greenville's citizens opened their arms and hearts to those fleeing the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast, but many private citizens took advantage of the situation to defraud the government and you, the American taxpayer, out of millions of dollars.

The actions by these people are deplorable. However, FEMA and the federal government should take responsibility for making funds too readily available in the aftermath of Katrina.

The images of screaming, angry faces on the television possibly prompted an overreaction by federal administrators. It's easy to be free with someone else's money, which is exactly what FEMA did, handing out $1,000 debit cards to anyone with an outstretched hand.

Our democratic government is built on a system of checks and balances. The same should be said for they way and manner in which our taxes are spent.