NEW ORLEANS WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO
DEFRAUDING GULF COAST CLAIMS FACILITY
IN WAKE OF BP GULF SPILL
NATASHA WELLS, age 25, of New Orleans, Louisiana, pled guilty to mail fraud relating to a fraudulent application she made to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for financial assistance in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, the GCCF made disaster assistance money available to individuals and businesses affected by the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The GCCF required individuals to verify loss of income. On September 25, 2010, WELLS applied for disaster assistance funds, representing that she was working at Danny’s Seafood before the oil spill. However, WELLS had never worked for Danny’s Seafood and that she submitted false documentation to establish that she was employed at Danny’s Seafood and to establish her false loss earnings. Based on WELLS’ fraudulent application, the GCCF issued two checks totaling $7,600 to which WELLS was not entitled.
This case was brought as part of this District’s partnership with the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), a nationwide initiative to protect available funds and assistance for those victims of both natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and the recent Gulf oil spill. If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, you can contact the NCDF by either calling the hotline at (866) 720-5721, faxing the hotline at (225) 334-4707, emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909.
WELLS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty (20) years, a fine of $250,000.00 and three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. Sentencing is set for April 18, 2012.
The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Loan “Mimi” Nguyen.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims or have knowledge of waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to: (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to: email@example.com