Government and Red Cross fraud in the Disaster Zone: Three weeks after the storm

These are random, somewhat stream of consciousness notes from a relief supplies drop off trip taken to Staten Island. All pictures and video (not including the government and Red Cross PR photos) are from the trip.

It’s 21 days after the storm and there are still many thousands of people without power and heat. Food is scarce and for many every basic thing from soap to clean socks is in short supply.

How many people are in this predicament? No one knows because no one is counting. If someone has counted, they are not sharing the information with the news media and/or the news media is not reporting it.

How does a government operate a relief effort if 21 days out, it doesn’t know how many people are in need?

The answer is they don’t need to know because they are not operating a relief effort. 

This was obvious from my two visits to the Rockaways and the full day I spent on Staten Island Friday, November 16th, the day after Obama’s photo op visit.

“Everything is squeaky clean and under control. Thanks to our efforts and your tax dollars.”

The amount of prevarication on the part of the American Red Cross, FEMA, Obama & New York politicians, especially Cuomo and Bloomberg, on how much they are helping citizens is mind boggling.

As just one example among many, Bloomberg claimed a few days ago that the city has set up “300 public warming stations.” I’ve been in over a dozen of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Queens and Staten Island and I’ve only see one and it was set up and is being operated not by any government agency or non-profit, but by a masonry contracting firm, Navillus, based in Manhattan.

The overwhelming portion of help is coming from neighborhood people, business owners, and small groups with a wide variety of political and religious orientations both from within and outside the city.

One of just scores of entirely privately funded relief centers run by volunteers and supplied directly by human beings who are receiving next to no government or Red Cross Help. The government and Red Cross do not want you to see these pictures and the media is cooperating.

Were it not for this help, which in the aggregate is massive, many people would be starving at this point.

The government is denying its inability and/or unwillingness to help the victims of the storm and making blatantly fraudulent claims about what they’re doing to help as well as the desperateness of the situation.

The entire political class up and down the ladder is cooperating with the fraud.

One member, the Borough of Staten Island president, went “off the reservation” briefly to accurately complain about the inactivity of the American Red Cross, but he is now firmly in the political class camp going even so far as to threaten the street corner grassroots relief efforts with shutdown. Bloomberg is also making noises about doing this too.

Along with the government, the American Red Cross is also engaged in a massive fraud, staging photos ops, and then widely publicizing the pictures to give the impression that their efforts are meaningful (they are not, given their size and funding) in order to solicit donations.


1. The American Red Cross has an open government contract in which they are reimbursed for 100% of all the expenses involved running specific relief operations. So every blanket, every crumb of food, every gallon of gas they’re burning will be paid for with your tax dollars.

2. The American Red Cross usually soaks up about 70% of all the money that people donate for high profile relief operations. That means that all the other groups, including many of which are doing truly heroic and much needed work, have to share the remaining 30% of the pie.

3. The American Red Cross reserves the right – and uses it every time – to spend money donated for a specific catastrophe in any way it chooses.

This means if you give the American Red Cross money to feed freezing, hungry people in the Rockaways right now, the American Red Cross is perfectly OK spending it on a weeklong management retreat in Maui for their executives. Just Google “Red Cross fraud corruption” and you’ll see that they’ve been caught doing these kinds of things – and much, much worse – many, many times over a very long period.

Lots of pictures. Very little action and even less material help.

Obama’s visit to Staten Island yesterday was another example of a well-orchestated fraud.

One tiny slice of the devastated area was cleared for him as a backdrop. He posed there with some young people in blue windbreakers who are members of a phantom organization called “FEMA Corps”, hugged a woman for the cameras and was on his way back home.

The news media is cooperating with the party line and makes these frauds possible.

Reporters and cameramen see the devastation. They can see the scores of ad hoc volunteer relief stations desperately trying to keep up with a demand these small operations don’t have the resources to fill. However, instead of reporting on these efforts and encouraging the public to support them, all they do is recycle American Red Cross, FEMA and government baloney in essence stealing resources from them and the people who need them.

The word “vampires” comes to mind when watching how the news media, the American Red Cross, FEMA and the rest of the government are operating in this most desperate of situations.

There are hundreds of eye witnesses to this sham – police officers, National Guard troops, and people on the street. All anyone has to do is ask them what they’re seeing,  but no one is asking and no one is reporting.


The situation in New York goes beyond gross incompetence.

What we have here are are small group of people who in order to maintain their positions are deliberately misleading the public as to the extent of the problem, what is needed, and how the public can help.

Politicians congratulate each other on what a great job they’re doing

Instead of providing information and leadership to a population that is full of people who would gladly help if only they were directed how, they (the American Red Cross, FEMA, Obama, Cuomo, and Bloomberg) are fraudulently claiming that everything is under control and it’s all thanks to their good works. As if that weren’t bad enough, they’re actively diverting critical financial resources away from the groups that are doing the most good to one (the American Red Cross) that has proven again and again to be close to useless.

And like the thieves they are, they’re all backing up each other’s stories.

The needs continue to be great – maybe greater than ever –  today 21 days after the storm.

Info on what’s needed here:

Donated truck. Donated supplies. Volunteer labor. Red Cross and the government nowhere in sight. This scene is being played out all over the disaster zone.

– Ken McCarthy

19 Responses to Government and Red Cross fraud in the Disaster Zone: Three weeks after the storm

  1. peter bridge November 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    The operations of these bloodsuckers in Australia is almost identical. Looks like they are breeding under the mud.

  2. Steven Berry November 19, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    I have had suspicions about this once good idea for a long time..Here is why these are so many corrupt people and things in the USA…from the White House down..there are no groups made up of just we the people holding the foul and cancerous Congress accountable for their lies and accepting bribes from the Lobbyist who all need to be in a Federal Prison..The same thing holds true with the Red Cross..Who in Congress where the greed and corruption is a known secret is going to act on our behal to make these low crawlers accountable..and whats worse is we allow these former ambulance chasers to just keep being reelected…insanity !!

  3. marlio November 20, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    This is utterly despicable and atrocious, for an organization like this, who gets millions of dollars in contributions, every year, that they do not serve something besides prison or freeze dried food to the people who need it. In addition they should be up there passing out GOOD blankets, not those flimsy table top blankets, to people who are freezing. Pay no attention to what bozo said, they need porta-potties there for the people who are homeless. The President doesn’t seem to care what state they are in as long as he gets a good pr photo but the rest of america does. WE don’t have the mindset he does and actually care about other people BESIDES JUST OURSELVES!!! This is just SHAMEFUL and I will remember this when REd Cross calls me again, to help them raise money, as they do every year.

  4. Grant Hartnell November 20, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    I have talked to people for years about what a scam the Red Cross is but they choose to ignore the facts and continue to donate to them. The fact that I can see the Salvation Army handing out food and clothing every week and providing shelter for homeless people here where I live lets me see where my donations go. If I don’t see reasonable results for the donations made to a group or organization, I don’t support them.

  5. Bill Bandt November 20, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    I saw a verified publication the other day that showed what the heads of a lot of these “relief organizations” is paid, and the Red Cross CEO over $650,000 plus benefits annually. That is just obscene.

  6. lou cabaza November 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Why should this be a surprise to anyone. The system is broken thru the greed that starts with the President and almost all other world leaders down to the lowest of levels not only in Our government but also in most of the worlds humanity.There is only one way it will fix itself and that is thru some divine intervention = = so try and do some good while you are here since your deeds will follow you through eternity. Good luck and hold on

  7. Susan November 21, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    I read the GAO report upon which part of this story is based. Unless I missed something, there was a one-time appropriation for 2008. I think that was the year of katrina. I didn’t see in the report that this was an ongoing expense, even though the report shows an open account for the Red Cross with the feds, primarily FEMA. I will consider this information when deciding how to contribute for the next disaster.

    • ken November 21, 2012 at 11:50 am #

      Susan – One thing I’ve noticed and haven’t had the chance to track is that NYC government cites numbers that are nearly exactly the same as the ones the Red Cross cites (ex. number of blankets, number of meals etc.)

      It may be that the City is claiming the Red Cross activity as their own because they are funding it which would leads to a vast overstatement of the help being given.

      I also think that the Red Cross figures regarding meals and blankets distributed may be overstated

      2 million meals served in NYC in the first ten days? Nowhere I’ve been, and I’ve been in the hardest hit areas of Staten Island and Queens, have I seen even the slightest shred of evidence of an infrastructure to deliver on that – including up to this day.

      As for the blankets…the blankets being distributed are appropriate for people sleeping in a warmed, indoor space like a shelter. They would more appropriately be called “covers.”

      They are NOT suitable for people trying to sleep in 30 (that’s 0 C) degrees and below cold for weeks on end.

      It’s a cruel fraud for the American Red Cross and the City of New York to be publicly patting themselves on the back for distributing “blankets” even if their numbers are correct.

      When all this is over, I’d like to see an audit. Will it happen? If so, who is going to do it?

      • MO November 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

        The numbers reflect Red Cross activity all over the area affected by Sandy–including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and the areas outside NYC including Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk. Believe it or not, NYC was not the only place affected.

        • ken November 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

          Way to pack the list with counties within the State of New York to make the list of effected areas seem longer.

          By the way, we have listing of relief groups in New Jersey, Nassau and Suffolk so our focus is not New York City only. It’s just the area where Red Cross fraud is easily observable because we can see it in action.

          And your snidely made point is what exactly?

          That the Red Cross is collecting money on behalf of other states as well and making fraudulent aid claims there too?

  8. John J. McCartney, R.N. November 23, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    In the comments above, I observed just one reference to the Salvation Army. I believe the person in charge of that organization is paid less than $50,000 per year yet that organization is very rarely mentioned in any main stream media report. I intend sharing the report above with the 175 folks on my e-mail address list so that the word will spread regarding the unconscionable misdeeds of the Red Cross will be known far and wide. Semper Fidelis, Nurse John

    • ken November 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      The Salvation Army has a much better reputation than the Red Cross, but we don’t have the resources to vet every group in the world.

      The groups we listed are ones we have personally dealt with over a multi-year period, show good CharityNavigator numbers and aren’t continuously embroiled in fraud scandals as the Red Cross is.

      But no slam meant against the Salvation Army. If you have experience with them and truth them, then great. Those are your guys.

  9. Craig November 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I’d be happy to contribute to a fund created to audit and watch-dog these types of “Aid” Organizations. The public needs to KNOW which groups deserve their support and which should be prosecuted for fraud. Until then, I will continue to donate locally to churches and hospitals.

  10. Samuel McCray November 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    I find this article disheartening. I just made a contribution to the Sandy relief 3 weeks ago. This is NOT what I intended the money for. I wanted to help. While it was not very much it could have helped someone. The Red Cross admin. should be held accountable and prosecuted for fraud. Until then I will only donate locally to the charities of my choice.

  11. ken November 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I contributed an embarrassingly large amount of money to the Red Cross at the time of Hurricane Katrina.

    I was in Canada when I made the contribution and did it online. When I got the credit card charge Iearned much to my dismay that the money went to the Canadian Red Cross. Who knows what percentage even made it to the American Red Cross, but even if it did, I’m sure much less than half would have been spent in relevant relief efforts.

    When I actually went to New Orleans a few months later and started getting first hand accounts of what the Red Cross did and didn’t do that’s when I started my research.

    The problem is that the Red Cross’ quasi-government/quasi-military nature is never disclosed to the public. I don’t think anyone who knows how little they do with the money they get from the public would support them.

  12. ken December 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Fraud: In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual.

    I use the word “fraud” very specifically in this article.

    The “intentional deception” is that FEMA, the Red Cross, and the City of New York are representing themselves to the media as doing far more than they are actually going.

    The “personal gain” is that politicians and bureaucrats who should be suffering career-ending public outcry are not only maintaining their jobs and careers, but are scoring PR points by these deceptions.

    They are also “damaging” individuals. In the case of the Red Cross, they are collecting money in the name of storm victims knowing in advance they are going to spend it on other ways thus diverting donors from real relief programs to the Red Cross’ largely imaginary one. The government is also misrepresenting the depth and scope of the problem giving people who might be donors the misimpression that “it’s all being taken care of.”

    By this definition, FEMA, the Red Cross and Bloomberg are engaged in an ongoing fraud.

    That said many kind people have volunteered to work for the Red Cross – and even FEMA (!) – and they, in fact, are good people who’ve been misled as to where their energies can best be spent. I don’t mean to disparage them at all in any way.

  13. ken December 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    A local friend wrote me this about his wife’s recent experience in one of the storm damaged areas:

    Donna went to Red Hook Brooklyn yesterday with 2 of her friends to help.
    The FEMA people she ran into were mostly volunteers housed in barrack bunks
    on a ship, and National Guardsmen called up for duty. From what she saw and
    heard, they had so much change in who was manning stations, that follow
    through and continuity was impossible. On the other hand, where my mom
    lives, and where people have money and the damage was slight, FEMA was going
    door to door and almost begging the well to do to fill out claim forms.
    What a joke.

  14. Marvin December 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    I was a volunteer at Camp Gruber in OK when approx 1500 Katrina victims were bussed in. We had local volunteers coming out of our ears, but when the government announced the money being made available for recovery, organizations came out of the woodwork to file claims for reimbursement. For example, I met a ‘van driver’ who was flown in from New Jersey chapter of Red Cross to ‘help’ out. They paid his motel, airfare and two meals a day for a week or more. Just one example of the broad waste observed.