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Columbia Missourian

Joplin woman admits post-tornado fraud

By The Associated Press
January 4, 2013 | 11:21 a.m. CST

SPRINGFIELD — A Joplin woman has admitted defrauding the federal government out of disaster benefits following the May 2011 tornado that devastated the city.

The U.S. Attorney's office said 37-year-old Pamala Ann Shafer pleaded guilty Thursday to making false statements to the government.

Prosecutors said Shafer applied for federal help by falsely claiming her apartment had been damaged by the tornado. She also applied for temporary rental assistance, leading the federal government to authorize a payment of $938.

Shafer admitted in her plea that she didn't live at the apartment when the tornado struck. The apartment was owned by another person who didn't know her.

The U.S. Attorney's office says Shafer is the fifth person so far to plead guilty in cases of fraudulently receiving post-tornado federal benefits.