FORT MYERS, Fla. - It's an age old story. Shady characters looking to get rich off of other people's misery. It happens in the aftermath of practically every major natural or man-made disaster. In one case, you were the victim.
In the case of the BP oil spill, some people scammed their way into thousands of dollars in government assistance. That meant you and I had to pay the bill.
The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the worst in history. The aftermath included thousands of people applying for government assistance, some of them con artists.
"It's mind-boggling," said David Dirmeyer, U.S. Postal Inspector.
Mind-boggling that 87 people would falsely claim this massive spill cost them their jobs at a seafood processing plant.
"Our investigation determined that none of these people worked in that seafood processing plant, they never heard of the people. It was a totally fraudulent claim," said Dirmeyer.
The dollar loss to you, the taxpayer footing the bill, $352,000.
"There were lots of people who deserved money who lost their jobs, lost their businesses and they were unable to get money," said Dirmeyer.
The good news, the rip off artists who tried to profit from this disaster were quickly caught.
Whenever you file a false claim, just the act itself of filing the claim is committing a federal offense. Justice is swift and it is severe so don't do it," said Vicki Davis, Assistant U.S Attorney.
Postal inspectors got this call from the National Center for Disaster Fraud. That agency investigates all suspected fraud in the aftermath of both natual and even man-made disasters, like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.