Queens woman is accused of posing as storm victim - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Superstorm Sandy

Queens woman is accused of posing as storm victim

Posted: Updated:
After Sandy After Sandy

DAVID B. CARUSO | AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York City woman who spent the past 9 1/2 months portraying herself as a victim of Superstorm Sandy is now facing charges that she made it all up to collect insurance money, free hotel lodging and thousands of dollars in relief aid.

Caterina Curatolo, 48, was arrested Monday at a hotel in Brooklyn where she had been staying at taxpayer expense because of her supposed inability to return to her Queens home.

In a series of aid applications and interviews with caseworkers and insurance adjusters, Curatolo had claimed that the house had been had been struck by lightning four times and ruined by flooding during the October storm.

In reality, investigators with the attorney general's office said, the house sat in a neighborhood far from any flooding and had been in a state of severe disrepair for years, to the point where neighbors had repeatedly complained about its dilapidated state.

The investigation also revealed that Curatolo had made a similar claim about storm damage after Hurricane Irene struck the city in 2011, officials said.

That time, she received more than $7,700 in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This year, her take was much higher, authorities said. A city program for storm refugees spent $83,500 putting her up in hotel rooms for 269 days. She got another $3,590 in benefits from the Red Cross, according to the criminal complaint.

Curatolo's arrest "shows that scammers who trade on tragedy will be exposed and punished," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

Curatolo's lawyer, Elizabeth Pruser, didn't immediately return a phone message Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities said Curatolo also filed an auto insurance claim contending that her Jeep Grand Cherokee had been ruined in Sandy's deluge, but an adjuster with her insurer, GEICO, found none of the telltale signs of flood damage, according to investigators. She filed another homeowner's insurance claim for more than $15,000, saying that her roof had suffered water damage and that a ceiling had collapsed, the criminal complaint said.

Curatolo was arraigned late Monday at a courthouse in Queens on charges including grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records. A judge released her pending trial.

  • Queens NewsQueens NewsMore>>

  • Silent Disco

    Headphone dance party comes to Queens

    Headphone dance party comes to Queens

    Friday, September 12 2014 10:44 PM EDT2014-09-13 02:44:37 GMT
    No. No, it's not even like that. We're all dancing together to the same song. We're listening through these headphones. It's a dance party. With my headphones on, this D.J. sounds like he might assemble the greatest late-night playlist of all-time. With my headphones off, this party looks really weird.
    No. No, it's not even like that. We're all dancing together to the same song. We're listening through these headphones. It's a dance party. With my headphones on, this D.J. sounds like he might assemble the greatest late-night playlist of all-time. With my headphones off, this party looks really weird.
  • Housing activists protest Airbnb

    Housing activists protest Airbnb

    Friday, September 12 2014 7:41 PM EDT2014-09-12 23:41:17 GMT
    You've probably seen Airbnb commercials extolling the benefits of homeowners renting out their houses or apartments to out-of-town guests for a fee. Sharing is caring feel-good commercials.But housing activists say Airbnb is reducing available housing in New York City's increasingly expensive and shrinking housing market. They argue Airbnb is pushing thousands of apartments toward use as illegal hotels instead of affordable housing.
    You've probably seen Airbnb commercials extolling the benefits of homeowners renting out their houses or apartments to out-of-town guests for a fee. Sharing is caring feel-good commercials.But housing activists say Airbnb is reducing available housing in New York City's increasingly expensive and shrinking housing market. They argue Airbnb is pushing thousands of apartments toward use as illegal hotels instead of affordable housing.
  • Clothing for a cause

    Clothing for a cause

    Friday, September 12 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-09-12 23:00:07 GMT
    Like millions of Americans, John Williams has been out of work for months. He has finally landed an interview for a customer service position. To make sure he gets the job, he is making sure to look his best, thanks to Suited for Work.Suited for Work is a program under FEGS, a nonprofit that's been around for 80 years. Since its inception, Suited for Work has outfitted more than 8,000 men with brand-new suits donated by manufacturers.
    Like millions of Americans, John Williams has been out of work for months. He has finally landed an interview for a customer service position. To make sure he gets the job, he is making sure to look his best, thanks to Suited for Work.Suited for Work is a program under FEGS, a nonprofit that's been around for 80 years. Since its inception, Suited for Work has outfitted more than 8,000 men with brand-new suits donated by manufacturers.
Powered by WorldNow

WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
485 S. Highland St.
Memphis, TN 38111

Main Station: (901) 320-1313
Newsroom: (901) 320-1340

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices