08.16.2010 1

Fraud Infiltrates BP’s Clean Up Efforts

By Rebekah Rast –

Thankfully the Gulf oil leak has been plugged. And, like any other top news story, once the situation is somewhat resolved or becomes old news, the coverage is dropped.

The media should not be so quick to move on. There continues to be news coming out of this catastrophe in the Gulf — most of it is not good.

Life is still not back to normal for those affected by the disaster, and won’t be for a long time. Many fishermen are still out of work, oil rig workers aren’t allowed to work and most Americans are skeptical of any food coming out of the waters — greatly impacting the restaurant industry in the area.

To compensate those most impacted by the Gulf oil spill, BP has so far paid out $308 million to those whose livelihoods depend on the Gulf waters. Many fishermen have received compensation or have been hired by BP to help with clean up efforts. These honest, hard-working Americans are grateful for the help.

Whenever there is aid offered of any kind, especially when it’s money, there will always be those who try and manipulate the system. Many lives have been destroyed in the Gulf and even those whose livelihoods weren’t as disrupted as others want a handout and will go to whatever measure is needed to get it.

To receive the compensation BP is offering to these fishermen, all the fishermen had to do was show a valid fisherman’s license. Let the fraud begin.

A good indication some not-so-honest people were up to something fishy was the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has sold 2,200 licenses since the oil spill. This is odd as many of the fishing zones are still closed due to the oil spill.

Some fraudsters are even falsifying trip ticket information. Trip tickets are used as a point of sale by commercial fishermen and wholesale/retail dealer license holders. These tickets are filled out by both parties and filed into LDWFs Trip Ticket Program’s database.

A news release from LDWF stated that a man was arrested for allegedly misrepresenting trip ticket documents dated from May and June of 2009 in order to file a claim with BP to receive compensation. Upon digging deeper, they found this man did not have a commercial fishing license and the public record he filed that denoted 5,644 pounds of shrimp with a value of $10,237.50, was simply not accurate. All this after he received three payments from BP, totaling $3,000 in May and June of this year.

BP and LDWF law enforcement officers are now looking into each and every claim to make sure they are valid, as they should. Three people suspected of manipulating BP’s system have already been arrested.

BP now has to work harder to ensure the right people are receiving the relief funds. This could potentially slow down the process for those who should rightfully receive BP’s compensation.

The Gulf has faced many hardships from being hit hard by both Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill. The Gulf needs to be repaired so Americans can get back to work.

Despite the negative impact of those who are taking advantage of the system by trying to get money that does not belong to them, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, law enforcement officers, the LDWF and BP deserve to be praised for how they are working together. Their efforts are helping to rebuild the Gulf and peoples’ lives.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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