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Bush Administration Seeks Return of Fraudulent FEMA Claims

By Associated Press

Washington, DC – The Bush administration is trying to recover nearly $500 million from people who improperly received federal aid money intended to help victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- and that amount may increase further.

The government's newest estimate of improper aid represents $494 million FEMA paid to 134,000 people who were ineligible for the aid they received.

More than half the money went to people who couldn't prove residency. Overpayments and duplicate payments account for most of the remainder.

The amount had exceeded $500 million, but the agency wrote off nearly $27 million because of appeals or hardship waivers. The $500 million figure would represent nearly $1 of every $10 in government aid intended to help storm victims.

Congressional investigators determined people provided false addresses, other people's social security numbers and Gulf Coast addresses that did not exist. And because of the chaotic situation and loose controls, investigators say nearly half the 11,000 people who received emergency debit cards also received FEMA checks.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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