Unraveling a hurricane fraud case in Tulsa

Friday, September 30th 2005, 4:52 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa Police arrested a woman Friday afternoon who they say created an elaborate scheme in order to receive free presents. They say by claiming to be a victim of hurricane Katrina, she got free rent, groceries, even $1,500 from the Red Cross.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says the people who helped her, are in a state of shock.

Tulsa Police say Misty Howard was an actress good enough to fool many good-hearted people, starting with the manager of an east Tulsa apartment complex, who gave Misty, her husband and four children, free rent and utilities starting September 10th. Bran Powers: "I think it's one of the cruelest things to do, to use a disaster like that, that affects so many people, who really, truly need the help and just doing this, it's so wrong."

Police say Howard conned the good people at the church next-door, getting groceries and cash and even convinced the pastor's wife to drive her around town to apply for aid. Loretta Robertson: "They told us they had nothing, not even towels to dry their kids. They had to dry them with their clothes, that they only had a couple of outfits when they left Louisiana to come here."

The kids told police they used the Red Cross money to buy bunk beds and spider man blankets.

Lots of people wanted to help. In fact, the apartment manager has a truck going all over town, collecting donations for this family.

Tulsa Police say the Howards are Tulsans with criminal histories and not even close to being evacuees. Tulsa Police Cpl Brian Collum: “I've never been to Louisiana and freely admitted they had a hard time last night and needed a fresh start so used this story to get a fresh start."

The Red Cross is investigating how Misty Howard was able to get a $1,500 check without showing any ID.

It says it has a zero-tolerance policy for fraud and will prosecute any case to the fullest extent.