One woman in Louisiana is in serious trouble with the Justice Department after trying to obtain FEMA funds through fraud, though she had just been released from prison for a previous financial aid scam against the Department of Education — both using stolen identities.
The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that a Louisiana woman has been charged with wire fraud and identity theft for attempting to con the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) out of over $150,000 in emergency funds relating to the 2016 Baton Rouge flooding.
FEMA aid was available to people who became unemployed because of the 2016 flooding that affected 12 parishes in south Louisiana.
Renata R. Foreman, 37, of Independence, Louisiana, used the stolen identities of around 62 people–including their names, dates of birth and social security numbers–and submitted approximately 55 fraudulent claims for disaster unemployment assistance to FEMA, in an attempt to receive over $150,000 in aid.
The Justice Department reported that if she is convicted, Foreman could face a “significant prison term, fines and restitution.”
However, this is not the first time Foreman has pulled off such a scheme.
In October 2013, Renata R. Foreman pleaded guilty to another fraudulent scheme of stealing government funds, mail fraud, and identity theft.
The Justice Department reported that in that scheme, from September 2008 through January 2012, Foreman had fraudulently obtained financial aid funds in the amount of $191,617 from several Louisiana and online universities. She applied for admissions and financial aid in her own name and the names of nine other individuals, without their knowledge or consent, providing false high school graduation information and forged transcripts to con universities into accepting her applications and obtaining federal financial aid.
For that crime, Foreman was sentenced to 33 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $191,617 to the U.S. Department of Education.
Based on that information, Foreman would have just recently been released from prison and still under supervision when she applied for the $150,000 in FEMA aid using stolen identities of around 55 people.
Below is the full press release from the Justice Department regarding the most recent fraud scheme Foreman committed against FEMA.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Louisiana Woman Charged with Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft in Connection with Fraudulent Scheme to Obtain Disaster Assistance
Acting United States Attorney Corey R. Amundson, who serves as the Acting Executive Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud, announced today that a federal grand jury for the Middle District of Louisiana has charged a Louisiana woman with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly attempting to obtain over $150,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds in relation to the 2016 Baton Rouge flooding.
Following the 2016 flooding that affected 12 parishes in south Louisiana, FEMA funds were available to people who became unemployed because of the flood. The funds were administered by the Louisiana Workforce Commission in the form of Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
The six-count indictment returned today charges RENATA FOREMAN, age 37, of Independence, Louisiana, with devising a scheme to defraud and to obtain money and property from FEMA by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses. The indictment alleges that FOREMAN obtained the identities of approximately 62 individuals, including names, dates of birth, and social security numbers. Then, using these stolen identities, FOREMAN submitted approximately 55 fraudulent claims for disaster unemployment assistance. According to the indictment, FOREMAN attempted to obtain over $150,000 in DUA funds. If convicted, FOREMAN could face a significant prison term, fines, and restitution.
Acting U.S. Attorney Corey R. Amundson stated, “No matter what storm or disaster we face next, natural or man-made, we will continue to identify, arrest and prosecute fraudsters who are taking advantage of and exploiting vulnerable people who have been affected by these devastating natural disasters. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, together with the National Center for Disaster Fraud and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, is working diligently to root out fraudulent claims for assistance and ensure that government funds are available to those who truly are in need.”
Members of the public are reminded to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before trusting anyone purporting to be working on behalf of disaster victims. Members of the public who suspect fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, or believe they have been the victim of fraud from a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of disaster victims, should contact the National Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at (866) 720-5721. The telephone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also fax information to the Center at (225) 334-4707, or email it to [email protected](link sends e-mail). Learn more about the National Center for Disaster Fraud at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.
This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Pete Smyczek.
NOTE: An indictment is an accusation by a grand jury. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless adjudicated guilty at trial or through a guilty plea.
Below is the full press release from the Justice Department in Foreman’s previous fraud scam, to which she pleaded guilty in Oct. 2013.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 13, 2014
New Orleans Woman, Renata R. Foreman, Sentenced For Financial Aid Fraud
According to court records, from September 2008 through January 2012, FOREMAN fraudulently obtained financial aid funds in the amount of $191,617 from several Louisiana and online universities. As part of her scheme to defraud, FOREMAN applied for admission and financial aid in her name and in the name of nine individuals without their knowledge or consent. By falsifying high school graduation information and supplying forged transcripts, FOREMAN induced universities to admit her and others based on false information. FOREMAN also misrepresented her income and other applicant’s income in order to maximize the federal financial aid she illegally received.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Education-Office of Inspector General, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia K. Evans.
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