Feds: Md. man stole hurricane victims’ IDs as part of $8M scam

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2017, file photo, floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey surround homes in Port Arthur, Texas. Many Texas families are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Harvey, a year after it caused widespread damage and flooding along the Gulf Coast and in and around Houston. But daily life has mostly returned to normal in many of the hardest hit communities. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Maryland man is accused of stealing hurricane victims’ identities as part of what the Secret Service describes as an $8 million effort to scam a Federal Emergency Management Agency program.

News outlets reported Tuesday that 30-year-old Tare Stanley Okirika is accused of registering unique pre-paid debit cards under stolen identities.

A Secret Service affidavit says Okirika used stolen Social Security and personal identifying information from hurricane victims in Georgia, Florida and Texas to file fraudulent disaster relief claims. It says Okirika is one of several co-conspirators and he received more than $650,000 over the past year.

Investigators claim about $8 million in FEMA immediate and individual assistance was paid to the cards held by “perpetrators of fraud.”

Okirika was charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

An attorney for Okirika declined to comment.

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