Whenever there is money involved, fraud is a concern. The Victim Compensation Fund is no exception, especially in light of several high-profile cases of fraud that occurred during the administration of the first VCF. Fortunately, it has been very encouraging that cases of fraud have thus far been few and far between in the new VCF. It remains crucial that those involved be vigilant for fraud in order to ensure that the funds allocated under the Zadroga Act go to the people who truly deserve them.
In 2011, Commander Charles Coughlin (USN, Ret.) was convicted in Federal court of defrauding the first Victim Compensation Fund of more than $300,000. While he was physically present at the Pentagon during the attacks, he falsely claimed to suffer from constant neck pain, headaches, and left-side numbness and weakness. Other evidence bore out that these were fabrications and he was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
This high-profile case illustrates the need for close scrutiny and an awareness of the fact that fraud can come from the least likely places. While VCF administrators closely scrutinize claims for signs of fraud, the Department of Justice, Office of Investigator General also exercises independent oversight over fraud that can potentially come in a variety of forms:
- Falsely claiming to have been physically present
- Fabricating or exaggerating injuries
- Knowingly presenting false evidence
- Using a stolen identity to procure VCF benefits
- Misappropriating or redirecting another person’s benefits
While the government is vigilant for VCF fraud, honest claimants have nothing to fear. Our attorneys at Barasch & McGarry can help you build a compelling, thorough and honest case for benefits.