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Archive for Thursday, December 29, 2005

49 accused of bilking Red Cross relief funds

December 29, 2005

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— Forty-nine people have been indicted in a scheme that bilked thousands of dollars from a Red Cross fund designated for Hurricane Katrina victims, federal authorities said.

At least 14 suspects worked at a Red Cross call center in Bakersfield and are accused of helping family and friends file false claims for aid money, said Mary Wenger, a spokeswoman for U.S. Atty. McGregor Scott in Sacramento. Six have pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges.

The fake claims drained at least $200,000 from the fund, with an average payout of about $1,000, Red Cross spokeswoman Devorah Goldburg said. The total could rise as the investigation continues.

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