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Gary Younge
Bogus claims flood in to 9/11 fund

Some applicants to the federal programme lived several miles away from Ground Zero. Others simply wanted free air conditioners.

The money was intended to help people to purify their air from the dust of the twin towers, with each person eligible for up to $1,500.

Almost $46m has already been disbursed by the federal emergency management agency. It admits that some of it will have gone to fraudsters, even though inspectors have been visiting the homes of many claimants.

The US government has earmarked just over $21bn of emergency aid relating to the World Trade Centre, including $401m to businesses, $17m to people who lost their jobs, and $4-$5bn to those who lost partners and relatives.

As of last month, the district attorney had charged 98 people with fraud and was investigating several others.

Among those arrested in New York City was an official at a city mortuary who sold coffins donated by funeral homes. There have also been a number of people who have invented loved ones supposedly killed.

One woman collected $31,000 from relief agencies, claiming that she and her mother were visiting the trade centre on September 11, when the two were separated in the chaos. Her mother had died in 1998.

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