Desima James told the Federal Emergency Management Agency that he was a victim of disasters in five different States. Now, he admits he was lying.
James pleaded guilty on Monday. The court found that he got over $30,000 by making fake claims to FEMA. He said he lived in areas that had been hit by hurricanes, flooding, and a tornado. James gave different names and addresses in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Indiana, and New Hampshire. He really lived in Georgia.
FEMA mailed him money to help with his "emergencies".
"Mr. James exploited other people's misfortune in hopes of being delivered a life of ease," says the Postal Inspector in charge of Atlanta, Georgia.
Many homes in the U.S. were damaged by severe weather this winter and spring. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a warning for people whose homes were damaged: Don't get cheated by someone who offers to do repairs.
To protect yourself:
Don't hire anyone who goes door to door looking for repair work.
Use a licensed contractor.
Talk to people the contractor has worked for before.
Get estimates (an idea of how much the work will cost) from several contractors.
Don't believe any contractor who says he's certified by FEMA -- the agency doesn't do this.
Get a contract that says what work the contractor will do, how much it will cost, and when you will pay.
Don't pay in advance.
Pay by check or credit card.
If someone says they're from the government, ask to see their ID. FEMA officials will never ask for your Social Security number or bank information.
A man in New Orleans got help from the U.S. government after Hurricane Katrina -- but he wanted more. Now, he admits that he lied to get it.
Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans in 2005. The government gave money to people who had lost their homes. It also gave them stamps they could use to get food.
George Magee got help this way. But he also pretended to be two other people. He applied for help in their names. When the government sent them checks, he cashed them by forging the others' signatures. Magee also got food stamps this way.
He pleaded guilty on Friday. He could go to prison for 30 years or more, and could also have to pay back all the money plus a fine.
Heavy snow is causing problems in Washington, D.C., the capitol city of the U.S.
More than 30 inches fell on Saturday, and more is expected today.
Many workplaces closed. So did the city's transit system (buses and trains).
But some people -- police, firefighters, doctors and nurses -- still had to go to work. Soldiers from the National Guard picked these people up in Humvees. Once, they drove the city police chief to the scene of a shooting.
There were not many other vehicles driving on the streets. But some had been left there when their owners couldn't drive further.
The soldiers are ready to keep doing this till Thursday.