Woman charged with fraud for 13 hurricane claims

Recent Outbreaks Posted on

A woman who filed at least 13 claims for federal assistance after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike has been charged with mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Phyllis Ann Taylor of Houston is accused of making the claims for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency using several versions of her name, Social Security numbers from other people, and claiming damage to various New Orleans and Lake Charles, La., addresses.

Some of the addresses don't exist.

Prosecutors allege Taylor made her most recent claim on Sept. 13, the day Ike made landfall in Texas. She said her home on storm-ravaged Galveston Island was hit by Ike, but prosecutors said Taylor never lived there.

The charges include a series of claims dating to September 2005, when she said her home in a public housing project in Marerro, La., was damaged during Hurricane Katrina, which nearly destroyed New Orleans. Prosecutors have said that residence was not damaged.

The indictment issued last week charges Taylor, 28, with eight counts of mail fraud and seven counts of aggravated identity theft related to claims from Katrina and Rita, and one count of disaster-assistance fraud for the Ike claim.

It was unclear Tuesday whether Taylor had a lawyer who could comment on her case.

She was arrested Monday. If convicted, she could face more than 30 years in prison.

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