New Orleans: Payback Time

The federal government is looking to get back a large sum of money it gave out to those affected by Hurricane Katrina's severe devastation.

$84.5 million was given out to more than 10,000 New Orleans citizens in the aftermath of Katrina — but official figures show that fewer than 8,000 homes existed there in the first place. Associated Press analysis of government data shows that the government gave out nearly $5.3 billion to storm victims, in more home grants than the number or homes, in one of every five neighborhoods.

So far, the Justice Department has prosecuted more than 400 people for storm-related fraud, and $18 million has been returned to FEMA or the American Red Cross, according to a recent report by the department's Katrina Fraud Task Force. READ MORE

Do you think that the government should seek retribution for improperly granted Hurricane Katrina aid? Write to us at and tell us your opinion!

Here's what FOX Fans are saying:

"Absolutely! Any and ALL cheaters and liars need to feel the wrath of the government for the shameless tactics of stealing from the public." — Dick

"By all means. If any money was improperly handed out, then those who sanctioned and dispensed the money should replace it — plus 10% for every year since it was first mismanaged. As well as those who slipped the money past everyone, and caused that invalid set of claims, should have their paychecks cover the balance, till they make proper restitution." — Harley

"Yes! They should definitely seek to retrieve the improperly granted aid. It infuriates me that someone would do that and then scream to the high heavens that they aren't getting what they deserve." — Sharon (Empire, AL)

"Yes, the government should go after the free-loaders that high-jacked the HARD working tax-payers of money that was NOT meant for them." — Kaylyn (Novi, MI)

"So you thought the poor, ignorant people in New Orleans were not able to care for themselves. Well, they put their hands out and the money flowed. So who got the last laugh! Keep the money flowing." — Blanchard

"Yes … anyone taking money and or misrepresented themselves or their situation should have to payback with penalties along with the fees encountered for recovering. If I took money that didn't belong to me it would have to be paid back and I would probably have to do jail time." — Connie

"The government could never get anything back from those crooks in Louisana. All they want is a handout." — Lydia

"Cheating is wrong. I definitely think the money was obtained by error or crook and should be returned. It is my/our tax money and we have a right to it's being spent wisely and the government has an obligation to peruse justice and to be frugal with our funds." — Jeanine (Grand Crane, LA)

"I know personally as a victim of Katrina and Rita that a lot of money was abused and not used for the right reasons. I think the money should be accounted for and every bit that can't be, should be paid back." — Howell

"Absolutely - it's theft. The 'government' doesn't have any money. All they do is give out the hard earned money they collect from taxpayers." — Steve (Tucson, AZ)

"If we can pinpoint who stole the money and misused money by local government (i.e. Mayor Nagan), I say FEMA should go for it. There was much misuse I am sure. I wonder why we haven't heard from the Midwest where hundreds of thousands were without power for days on in. Just goes to show how many thousands in our nation know how to fend for themselves." — Scott (Florence, AL)

"The government should demand repayment of every dime that was provided for levee repairs and spent elsewhere, and all the money for 'rebuilding.'" — Dan

"Absolutely. Our government and other organizations have given so very much to the rebuilding of New Orleans. Mishandled and extorted money needs to be recovered. There is no excuse for New Orleans to still be asking for assistance. The displaced people of New Orleans should NOT still be receiving aid from our government. I am not a hard hearted person, but I remember when Hurricane Andrew totally demolished Homestead Florida and the surrounding area - we didn't have to hear about the poor people there for a year and a half afterwards, nor did we support them for an extended period of time." — Jana (Spring, TX)

"Yes, there are people who cannot get the help they need when others are scamming us tax payers." — Joyce (Nebraska)

"Fraud should be prosecuted! If FEMA just made an error and gave someone money, too bad!" — Julie

"I most certainly think the government should act on retributions. If those who sincerely were owed the money are left alone, then the ones who unlawfully obtained funding are dealt with, there might be more to go around to the ones in need. I mean, those poor people were devastated but some acted as though they had never seen another human in their lives. The looting, etc and taking money that didn't belong to them?" — Debbie (Mississippi)

"Absolutely. Any monies given to parties that did not have them coming should be returned, with no statute of limitations." — Robert

"ABSOLUTELY! The government should and MUST demand retribution from people/organizations/companies that received aid that they were not entitled to. There were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of deserving people who possibly did not get everything they should have because of misappropriation and fraud. These acts must not go unpunished." — Lisa (Greer, SC)

"I think the government should seek retribution, but first they should make sure that they stop giving out our money unless it is absolutely curtain that it is needed? The government finds it extremely easy to just pass out money to the first apparently disadvantaged person that asks for it." — Jim G (Houston, TX)

"I hate the idea that thieves are getting away with it, but I also hate the idea of throwing good money after bad. The federal government was so inept that it gave out millions to people who were not entitled to it. However, I don't necessarily want millions MORE of our tax dollars spent trying to retrieve those funds. Thanks FEMA for all your 'hard work.'" — Amy (Omaha, NE)

"The citizens of the U.S. bent over backwards to assist the citizens of Louisiana despite the fact that the same people refused to upgrade the levies. Reclaim whatever funds have not been burned off, distributing them back to the public and private sources that were abused." — Dennis

"What kind of stupid question is that? Every penny should be taken back that was used improperly. I'm so sick of hearing about bad news gone unpunished." — Mary

"No, the victims of this tragedy should not suffer more from the government's inefficiency. All of the government employees involved in this scam should pay it back with money withdrawn from each paycheck, if they still have a government job, that is." — Monica (Treasure Island, FL)

"Yes, any monies that were illegally distributed should be returned to FEMA, and any charitable groups who contributed. There comes a time when people must be made accountable for their actions." — Connie

"Yes, absolutely FEMA should ask for the money back. FEMA and the government were severely criticized almost immediately following the storm for not doing anything to help the people affected by the hurricane. So, to thwart criticism for responding quicker to the tsunami victims, FEMA sprung into action by giving debit cards and vouchers without having the necessary safe guards in place to prevent fraud. Who could imagine that the residents of New Orleans and other surrounding areas would defraud the government? I live in Louisiana and have watched the wretched abuse of our government by the citizens and it was appalling and still is. It's been 18 months and people in the Houston and Baton Rouge areas are still complaining because the money has run out. My response to their complaints is simply, "Get a job like the rest of us." When the people are willing to help themselves, then the public will have more compassion for them in need." — Carole (Louisiana)

"Absolutely, get OUR money back, and press charges on the people who stole OUR money." — Clarence (Kings Bay, GA)

"If people got money they should not have received, yes I think the government should seek to retrieve the money. Same for those credit cards they passed out. Anyone who got them illegally should be punished." — Barbara

" What those people did was nothing but stealing. If I cheated the federal government. they would certainly come after me. They should do the same with people that obtained money under false pretenses, especially after such a tragic experience." — W. Lewis (Jackson, MS.)

"The feds should get it ALL back. If the storm damaged or destroyed your home and you didn't have any insurance, well it's too damn bad. Federal aid of any kind is not a right and is not guaranteed by the Constitution." — Gil (Tomahawk, WI)

"YES, the government should seek retribution for improperly granted Hurricane Katrina aid! The perpetrators should return all stolen funds , be given punitive fines and be jailed for fraud in a time of a crisis!" — Jim G (Orlando, FL)

"The government should seek retribution for these crooks who stole money they were not entitled to. I am just as mad at our government for allowing this to happen. I wonder if the government will be just as kind to the victims in central Florida of last week's tornadoes." — Wade

"Officially misrepresenting losses due to a natural disaster is fraud, and taking money from federal or other sources under false pretenses constitutes larceny from the public and should be vigorously prosecuted to the full extent of the law!" — David (Palm Bay, FL)

"Absolutely, anyone who registered falsely for money should be put in jail, just like any other thief" — Judy (South Carolina)

"Absolutely -- the government should seek retribution. If the government 'ever' overpays me for something, Social Security, unemployment Ins., etc., they always come back after their money ... it is not the government's money, it is the people's money that the government spent. Too many times people think that the government's money is free money ... it is the money of every citizen of this country." — Lee (Santa Clarita, CA)

"Yes I do think the Government should seek to get the improperly granted aid money back. This is theft pure and simple. We waste enough of our tax money without fraud taking even more. We should also prosecute the people involved to the full extent of the law and send them to prison if possible." — Dennis

"Yes they should seek retribution for improperly granted Hurricane Katrina aid … That is OUR tax money and this money should have been used for those who REALLY needed it. The government should have done a BETTER job at making sure they were paying out money to the proper people. It didn't help that so many people kept yelling about wanting money and I think the government just started giving it out without REALLY checking to see if they really should be getting it." — Barbara

"Those who got money illegally should be made to pay the money back. The reason for the money is to help people who actually encountered devastating loses and needed the money... Shame on those who took the money wrongfully." — Roz (Louisiana)

"Good luck getting it back!" — Barbara

"This question is a joke, right? Of course, we need to get the money back! The government made many mistakes in handing out the money down there so let's not compound things by not going after people who committed fraud. They stole the money! Get it back and prosecute them." — Eric (Palm Harbor, FL)

"Absolutely those criminals should pay back any money that was received through fraudulent means and they should be prosecuted. That is stealing from the taxpayers and the money needs to be returned and they need to be put in jail." — Jocelynn

"I think the government should help with food and shelter, but shouldn't buy anyone homes. A hurricane, like terrorism, is not the government's fault and I feel our tax dollars are being spent too freely trying to make people feel better with money. It makes every crisis a big money grab." — Tim

"No. Only because it would cost more to try to get the money back. A better catch would be all involved in the levy funding controversy!" — John (Newburgh, IN)

"It's dangerous to confuse sympathy for the victims with the reality of misappropriated money. We feel for the victims but yes, we should get the money back. We don't pay taxes so the undeserving can live off our hard work. Remember the money is from our pockets." — Dana (Lake City, FL)

"Well, this is what happens when BIG government has too much CASH! And while we are looking at this loss — how about the cash sent to New Orleans Mayor Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Blanco — are they accountable too?" — Winston

"I keep hearing that Bush caused the storm so this must be a new conspiracy by him to give the money to only those who vote for him … right?" — Perry

"It was heartbreaking to see nature's destruction of a major city. It's even more heartbreaking that money was stolen from the American taxpayers. Whoever calculated the housing numbers, should have to answer why they tried to deceive the federal government." — Steven (Griffin, GA)