Monday, September 20, 2010

Woman Indicted for Fraud and Identity Theft in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

NEW ORLEANS, LA—SHANTELL MOSES, age 35, formerly a resident of Louisiana, was charged in a four-count indictment today by a federal grand jury with fraud and identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

According to the indictment, SHANTELL MOSES fraudulently applied for disaster assistance funds from the American Red Cross on eleven (11) separate occasions between September and October 2005. The Red Cross made disaster assistance funds of up to $1,565 available to those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 on a one-time only basis. According to the indictment, the defendant, SHANTELL MOSES, was not a resident of an area affected by the hurricane at the time Katrina made landfall. Because she was not a resident of Louisiana, the defendant, SHANTELL MOSES, obtained a fraudulent Louisiana identification card in the name “Tora Yvette Hodges” with a false residential address in Kenner, Louisiana. According to court documents, Tora Hodges, a Georgia resident whom MOSES knew, never gave MOSES permission or authorization to use her identity for any purpose. This false identification obtained by MOSES was utilized at each and every American Red Cross shelter for the purpose of defrauding the Red Cross into believing that MOSES was a resident of Louisiana. In all, according to the indictment, MOSES, fraudulently obtained $16,915 from the American Red Cross.

If convicted of the mail fraud count in the indictment, MOSES faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty (20) years, a fine of $250,000, three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and a $100 special assessment. If convicted of the two aggravated identity theft counts, MOSES faces a two (2)-year term of imprisonment, to be imposed consecutive to any other term of imprisonment, along with a $250,000 fine, one year of supervised release following any imprisonment, and a $100 special assessment, as to each count. As to the identity theft count in the indictment, if convicted, MOSES faces a maximum term of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years, a $250,000 fine, three (3) years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.

U.S. Attorney Letten reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case is being investigated by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Chester.

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