Here's the short story:
HOUSTON -- Although thousands of evacuees are still in need of financial help, questions are being raised about how some of them are spending money on debit cards they received from the American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency, KPRC Local 2 reported Tuesday.Click2Houston.com - Money - Galleria Workers Question Evacuee Debit Card Purchases
Some employees at the Galleria said they saw storm victims using the debit cards to buy expensive gifts, like $250 bracelet, instead of on food or housing.
"I was upset because I donated money like a lot of people, and I think it should have just strictly been used for food and clothing and necessities … not luxury items
that, I mean, I can't even afford," a Galleria employee, who asked to not be identified, told KPRC Local 2.
The Red Cross said it is aware of the problem but admitted that it cannot control where the money is spent.
I'm finding this difficult to believe that the Red Cross or FEMA couldn't control the types of items to be purchased with these debit cards. I know with any corporate credit card the type of items can be limited by different categories. For example limiting the purchases to food or clothing. I understand the type of clothing or food can't be limited but I have no doubt the category of purchases could be. This appears to be some of the same issues that the Pentagon had previously with government credit cards which absolutely astounded me. I know myself that my previous corporate credit cards wouldn't allow me to go to a jewelry store and purchase jewelry or for that matter to purchase electronics/computer equipment. This is just more bureaucratic inefficiency at work with people not thinking through an idea. But then you knew this was going to happen with some of the evacuees. It's the same old story, a few selfish and corrupt individuals are going to ruin it for the majority of those out there who will use the cards for the intended purpose.
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