Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Joplin woman has been sentenced in federal court for fraudulently receiving federal disaster benefits following the May 22, 2011, tornado.
Amber Nicole Peters, 22, Joplin, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays on Wednesday, April 10, to 14 months in federal prison without parole, followed by five years of supervised release. The court also ordered Peters to pay $3,596 in restitution.
Peters pleaded guilty on Oct. 23, 2012, to disaster fraud. Peters admitted that she applied for federal disaster benefits by falsely claiming that her home and property had been damaged or destroyed in the May 22, 2011 tornado. In reality, Peters met a FEMA inspector at the tornado-damaged home belonging to her recently-deceased grandmother, which she falsely claimed was her primary residence. FEMA authorized payment in the amount of $3,596, of which $2,658 was for loss of personal property and $938 was for rental assistance. Peters was paid by electronic funds transfer on June 7, 2011.
As a result of Peters’s false claim, FEMA initially denied the legitimate claim later filed by her aunt, who lived at the home with Peters’s grandmother.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Joplin Police Department.
Disaster Fraud Hotline
Anyone with information about disaster fraud related to the Joplin tornado should call the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721, the Joplin Police Department at 417-623-3131, or the FBI’s Joplin office at 417-206-5700.