La. Woman Arrested on Hurricane Related Fraud Charges

July 18, 2006

Louisiana Attorney General Charles C. Foti, Jr., announced that Martha Collins of 1715 Loretta Street, Donaldsonville, La., was arrested on fraud charges stemming from hurricane related tax refunds.

According to the Louisiana Department of Insurance, the charges include: Six counts of Inciting a Felony (La. R.S. 14:28) andSix counts of Evasion of Tax (La. R.S. 47:1642). .

The Attorney General’s Office also received a Temporary Restraining Order against Collins on July 5, 2006, which prohibits her from engaging in any tax recovery business or any other unlawful or deceptive practices.

The case stems from a request by the Louisiana Department of Revenue that the Attorney General’s Office investigate allegations that Collins fraudulently prepared Natural Disaster claim forms for the refund of state sales taxes paid by hurricane victims on uninsured property lost as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

According to Special Agents, Collins allegedly charged hurricane victims $40 dollars to prepare the tax relief forms. Collins allegedly only asked for personal income and the amount of payments received from FEMA or insurance claims. Collins neglected to ask for a list of damaged property items or if the taxpayer had already received compensation for any lost property. A listing of property is required to file a claim, pursuant to La. R.S. 47:315.1. Collins would then fraudulently list thousand of dollars worth of items never owned by the victims and would encourage the victims to file these types of false claims with the state.

The Attorney General’s Special Agents and Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Deputies took Collins into custody and booked her into the Ascension Parish Prison on the above listed charges.

If convicted on all charges and counts, Collins faces a fine of $18,000 and 42 years in prison at hard labor.

“This type of fraudulently activity has the potential to cost our state millions of dollars,” Attorney General Foti stated. “I want to urge anyone with information on this type of criminal activity to contact my Investigations Division at 225-326-6100 or the Louisiana Department of Revenue at 225-219-2280.”

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