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Charges filed in first federal case involving alleged Katrina aid scam

[JURIST] Authorities in Los Angeles said Monday that two people have been charged with fraud in the first federal case involving alleged fraudulent donation solicitations related to Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] relief. Tino Lee, 44, of Burbank and Gina Liz Nicholas, 19, of Glendale California, were charged Friday with posing as American Red Cross volunteers [DOJ press release] and collecting more than $2,000 outside an electronics store in Burbank, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice. The case comes after US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales earlier this month outlined priorities for a new Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force [JURIST report; DOJ press release] set up in the Justice Department to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes like charity and insurance fraud, identity theft, and government benefit fraud. AP has more.

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