Oklahoma eyes stimulus fraud

MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: June 25, 2009 at 4:37 am •  Published: June 25, 2009
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A hot line has been established for residents, contractors and government employees to call if they suspect fraud, waste or abuse involving the more than $2.6 billion in federal stimulus money in Oklahoma, officials said Wednesday.

The toll-free number is (877) 259-7337.

"There are unprecedented levels of federal funding coming into the state of Oklahoma as a result of the stimulus plan and with such unprecedented levels of funding comes understandably tremendous risk for fraud, for abuse and for waste of those monies if we’re not careful,” U.S. Attorney John Richter said at a news conference.

One of the best sources of detecting fraud is reports from the public, he said.

James Finch, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oklahoma, said calls to the hot line will be answered by agents. Callers may remain anonymous.

"We are looking more at the substance of the information provided,” Finch said.

State Auditor and Inspector Steve Burrage, assigned by Gov. Brad Henry to ensure stimulus money is being spent correctly, said he and his auditors will visit state agencies and look at operations in the field.

"We began tracking stimulus money as soon as it arrived,” Burrage said.

The three recipients of the largest amounts of stimulus funds are the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the state Education Department and the state Transportation Department, he said.


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