SACRAMENTO, CALIF. 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.