Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ask, and ye might receive?

The book of Government, chapter 3, verse 1: "Ask that dispensed money should be returned to the public coffers, and ye might receive."
FEMA Asks Floridians to Give Back Aid

The federal government is asking more than 7,600 Floridians in 60 counties to return $30.3 million in emergency hurricane aid dispensed last year when a record four hurricanes slammed the state.

Most of the payments the Federal Emergency Management Agency wants back are because of insurance settlements reached after the government aid was doled out. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance coverage, spokesman Jim Homstad said.

The measure will mostly affect St. Lucie County, which was battered by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne last year. Residents there are being asked to return $3.7 million. In Palm Beach County, FEMA is seeking nearly $3.4 million.

In a small number of cases, FEMA wants to recoup money because of processing errors or duplicate approval of funds, Homstad said.

The agency has come under fire from lawmakers for allegedly paying millions to residents who made fraudulent claims.

FEMA has recouped more than $5 million of the money it is seeking. Officials said ti could take years to collect.
Why are they asking? Why would it take years? In the private sector, once an insurer discovered a fraudulent claim, the recipient could well face criminal charges of fraud as well as a civil suit. Even if it's a mistaken claim, the recipient had better return the money, unless he wants to face a lawsuit.

How ironic. Government demands our taxes with the threat of garnishing our wages, seizing our property and throwing us in jail. Then such zeal disappears when it comes to recovering some of the taxpayers' money after mistakenly giving it out.

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