Queens woman busted for posing as Sandy victim to get benefits
A Queens woman who received thousands in relief benefits was arrested for posing as a victim of Superstorm Sandy, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday.
Caterina Curatolo was busted for multiple counts of grand larceny, insurance fraud, scheme to defraud and falsifying business records, among other charges, for pretending her Fresh Meadows home was inhabitable after Sandy.
“Today’s arrest shows that scammers who trade on tragedy will be exposed and punished,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
According to Schneiderman’s felony complaint, Curatolo stayed in hotel rooms meant for Sandy evacuees for more than 269 days, racking up a bill of roughly $83,500.
When Curatolo was picked up by investigators, she was still staying at a Brooklyn Holiday Inn Express.
Curatolo also allegedly spent $3,590 from the city and Red Cross that was meant for food at Best Buy, Dressbarn, Marshalls and other retailers.
Schneiderman’s office said damage to Curatolo’s home in Queens was sustained two years before Sandy. She also owns the home next door, where undercover officers observed her picking up mail.
The complaint alleges Curatolo also made an auto insurance claim for her car, though an investigation by an insurance company showed no signs of water damage.
Schneiderman’s office also alleges Curatolo made a claim for roof damage after Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Curatolo’s attorney did not return a phone call requesting comment.
If convicted, Curatolo faces up to seven years in prison.
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