On the heels of a report earlier this week that Atlanta area Katrina victims were using $2,000 debit cards to purchase luxury items like Louis Vuitton handbags, Houston police yesterday discovered the cards, provided by FEMA and the Red Cross, being used at local strip clubs.
The Houston Police Department just formed a task force to investigate the abuse of the cards, which were distributed to thousands of Katrina hurricane victims to provide for necessities, such as food, clothing and toiletries. On the first day, the police found the cards being used to buy beer while ogling exotic dancers.
Meanwhile, Houston police are going undercover as evacuees to keep their eyes on those who get in line more than once.
“There may be some individuals who use some false identifications or providing false information on the forms, so we’re targeting those persons also,” said Lt. Robert Manzo.
Officers handed out a warning that falsifying government documents could result in a 20-year prison sentence.
Earlier this week, the New York Daily News reported that “profiteering ghouls” were using the debit cards in luxury-goods stores as far away as Atlanta.
“We’ve seen three of the cards,” said a senior employee of the Louis Vuitton store at the Lenox Square Mall in affluent Buckhead. “Two I’m certain have purchased; one actually asked if she could use it in the store. This has been since Saturday.”