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First arrest made in Katrina online fundraising fraud

[JURIST] The first federal fraud charges stemming from the online collection of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] donations have been filed against Gary S. Kraser, a federal prosecutor in Miami announced Monday. Kraser is accused of collecting nearly $40,000 in donations over the Internet by falsely claiming he was a pilot flying supplies to victims [Shreveport Times report] and needed donations to cover the cost of fuel. US Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said Kraser collected donations from 48 people around the world, but that most of the money had been returned. Authorities were tipped to the fraud based on a complaint about the website, and the FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center [official website] conducted the investigation. Last month, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales outlined priorities [JURIST report] for a new Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force [DOJ special report]. Federal authorities in California have charged two people with fraudulently soliciting donations [JURIST report] offline after the hurricane. AP has more.

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