Hurricane Katrina donations via the internet based upon false statements
On an internet chat forum for golfers, someone claimed that they lost everything during Hurricane Katrina. A kind friend set up a PayPal account to accept donations on behalf of this person, while others sent cash, money orders and other items to this alleged Katrina victim who was staying with relatives out of state. Upon returning home just days later, the alleged victim saw that his home was just fine, only losing some roof shinges, a downed fence and one cracked window. He did not inform anyone this was the case, and the donations kept coming. He claimed to use some of the money for charity to help out others and did do this, but to what degree cannot be determined. He continued to perpetrate the lie about damage to his home for a long period of time, even as late as 2007. He never told anyone on this golf fourm with some 13,000+ members the truth about his home. Has he committed a crime? Is this considered internet fraud even though he did not set up the PayPal account himself, but it was done on his behalf and he accepted all the donations? Is using a little of that money for charity enough to make this OK? It was all gained under false pretenses. Would this be an FBI matter?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Hurricane Katrina donations via the internet based upon false statements
This sounds like it would be something the FBI could investigate.