In addition, DOI required the monitors to establish a hotline number whereanyone could call with concerns or information and reported directly to DOIon all contractor activities. As a result, DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearnstated, “the integrity monitors scrutinized the contractors' activities in realtime and functioned as the city's eyes and ears.”
Monitoring Sandy expenditures is, in many ways, a more complicated task.While the World Trade Center site was and remains enormously complex, itis a single, 16-acre site where much of the work was in the hands of ahandful of large contractors. The destruction wrought by Sandy was much more sprawling. Sandysubmerged over 16% of NYC’s landmass, flooding over 75,000 buildingsacross on all five boroughs. As a result, it will require a different approach—marshalling the kind of broad, multiple-agency oversight that only theComptroller can offer.Still, the lessons of Ground Zero remain instructive. Indeed, despite rigorousprotocols, fraudsters and con-artists were still able to exploit the situation inthe years after the attacks. Some of the scams uncovered included:
A man collected nearly $300,000 in Federal loans after claiming histwo telecommunications companies, which moved out of the World TradeCenter in July 2001, sustained physical damage in the attacks
Two employees of the New York City Medical Examiner's Office wereaccused of embezzling Federal funds intended to help identify victims’remains
FEMA paid for free air conditioners and other clean-air devices for tensof thousands of New Yorkers who lived nowhere near Ground Zero or thetoxic plume from the World Trade Center
Millions of dollars in small business grants went to at least 28 Fortune500 companies and several hundred other multibillion-dollar firmsFurthermore, a 2006 report by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)(which was responsible for providing loans to businesses affected by theattacks) found that in a whopping 85 percent of cases, auditors were unableto determine whether the borrowers were adversely affected by the9/11attacks and their aftermath, based on lenders’ loan files and discussionwith borrowers.
While this does not mean that 85 percent of loans were, infact, fraudulent, the failure to prepare adequate justifications and obtainsupporting documentation to determine eligibility left the door open tocriminals who would seek to profit off of the tragedy of 9/11.