Crime Stoppers: Woman who attempted to scam FEMA arrested

Crime Stoppers: Woman who attempted to scam FEMA arrested

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - UPDATE: Ashley Lewis was arrested on Monday, November 21 after a post on a dating website led police to her location.

Investigators are looking for a woman they say tried to get money from FEMA for a home in which she never lived.

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is on the hunt for 25-year-old Ashley Lewis for felony theft and computer fraud.

Just three days after floodwaters first ravaged much of south Louisiana, Lewis went online and applied for FEMA assistance, according to EBRSO.

They said her personal information was correct, however, the address did not belong to her. She had no connection to the property.

Later in August, Lewis met with a FEMA representative at the home. During the walkthrough, a neighbor told the FEMA representative that Lewis did not live there.

When the FEMA representative asked Lewis to see her ID, she did not produce an ID and quickly left, according to a report.

"We make every effort to avoid fraud because we want to help survivors recover from the disaster and get the funds that they need and they deserve, but we also want it to go to the right person," said Ray Perez, a spokesperson for FEMA.

Perez said that in every disaster, people try to game the system. However, there are some safeguards in place even before the inspection begins.

"The inspector will always ask for ID, and we will also ask for proof of ownership of that home or that you actually live in if you are a renter," Perez said.

That is not the only line of defense, however. FEMA also cross-checks addresses. In this case, Perez said, the real owners of the home had already applied. More than one application for the same address raises an immediate red flag.

"Even if, for whatever reason, the inspector would have done his work with this fraudulent person, we would have still found out," Perez said.

The real homeowners ultimately received more than $15,000 in assistance from FEMA.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.