Hurricane Katrina Forest Recovery

As we work together to tackle the historic challenge that Hurricane Katrina has presented to the forestry communities of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, we hope that this blog will be a valuable resource and tool.

Thursday, June 29

Katrina Fraud-Fighting Unit Established

State Auditor Phil Bryant along with Gov. Haley Barbour has unveiled the formation of the Katrina Fraud Prevention and Detection Unit. This unit, under the control and direction of the Office of State Auditor (OSA), is charged with investigating reported instances of fraud identified in the application and verification process of the Homeowners Assistance Program, a grant awards program provided by Department of Housing and Urban Development. The unit is also charged with investigating suspected fraud related to residential rebuilding efforts in general within the Katrina disaster area of the three coastal counties and Pearl River County.

Through a Community Development Block Grant administered by the Mississippi Development Authority, the OSA has been allocated more than $1.9 million from June 1, 2006, through May 31, 2008, to establish this unit, setting up an office and establishing a toll-free number to report possible fraud and air concerns. The main office will be located in Hattiesburg.

Bryant said, "We are looking forward to putting this new fraud prevention and detection unit in operation. Special agents of the Auditor's Office will be assigned to the Transitional Recovery Office in Biloxi and the branch office in Hattiesburg. Their sole responsibility will be to respond to the fraud that will surely occur with the billions of tax dollars introduced into the homebuilders market. We will work closely with the Mississippi homebuilders and contractors associations, as well as various law enforcement agencies and prosecutors."


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