The Federal Emergency Management Agency last week said thousands of recipients of hurricane relief were paid in error, and the agency wants the money back. After reviewing disbursements to some 1.7 million households affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, FEMA said that 34,000 to 51,000 families received assistance for which they did not qualify. In letters sent out last week, recipients were told that if they don’t repay the money immediately, interest charges will start to accrue. “In every disaster there are just some bad apples who attempt to take advantage,” said FEMA official Donna Dannels. But critics said FEMA must shoulder some of the blame because shoddy accounting procedures left it vulnerable to fraud.
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