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Published: Thursday, 10/6/2005

Red Cross reports Katrina fund thefts

Toledo police are investigating three people believed to have lied about being victims of Hurricane Katrina to obtain about $1,600 in assistance from the Greater Toledo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The agency reported the alleged thefts on Tuesday and said they occurred between Sept. 2 and Sept. 15.

Four other people named in the report, believed to be legitimate victims, received assistance in Toledo in early September and allegedly got help later in Texas. Authorities in Texas will be following up on those cases, said Ken Robinson, the agency's director of programs and services.

No charges have been filed in the local cases, which Sgt. Chris Delaney called "despicable" because funds obtained by deception are no longer available to those in need.

"People are sending truckloads of stuff, and people are volunteering their time - my mom's one of them - and people steal because they have the opportunity to make a buck," he said.

The sergeant recommended the agency get some form of identification or a thumbprint from those seeking assistance.

Mr. Robinson said IDs are now required or a toll-free number is used to access information and confirm that applicants are from the affected areas.

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