Palo Alto, CA -- In September of 2005, the Palo Alto Chapter of the American Red Cross assisted numerous victims of Hurricane Katrina by providing cash and assistance finding housing and employment. During the first few weeks of the month, applications for aid were steady, averaging three to four applications a day. During the last week of September 2005, applications for aid began to increase at a dramatic rate causing the American Red Cross to become somewhat suspicious. An American Red Cross official contacted Palo Alto Police who commenced an investigation.
The investigation determined that several of the alleged victims never in fact resided in New Orleans. It fact, several of the alleged victims actually lived in communities surrounding Palo Alto. The investigation continued for approximately two years and in September of 2007, several arrest warrants were obtained.
On September 13, 2007, Palo Alto Police attempted to serve four arrest warrants in the city of East Palo Alto. The operation yielded one arrest. Police arrested 31 year-old Dante Jackson of East Palo at his home without incident.
The suspects in this case obtained checks valued between $600 and $1,500. In order to get financial assistance, the suspects simply had to provide their name and an address of a residence located within the disaster area. The American Red Cross immediately changed their application procedure when this fraudulent activity was discovered.