by Kevin Caruso
December 29, 2005
The Bakersfield Katrina Scam continues to get uglier as 49 people have now been indicted. Twenty-two of the individuals worked as Red Cross contractors at a call center in Bakersfield, California, and they worked with friends and family members to file false claims and pocket Red Cross funds intended for Katrina survivors.
The Bakersfield call center processed 16,000 calls a day and, because of this high volume of calls, agents would only take the name, address, and birth date of the callers. Call center agents would later confirm the information and issue a claim number, which would entitle Katrina survivors to either $360 (for individuals) and $1,500 (for families). The money would then be wired to the survivors via Western Union.
Authorities were tipped off when the same individual returned to claim money on at least 3 occasions.
The total lost funds in the Bakersfield scam is estimated to be $400,000.