Local News

Raleigh Woman Arrested, Accused Of Defrauding Red Cross

Posted September 15, 2005 8:27 a.m. EDT

— A Raleigh woman was arrested Wednesday for allegedly lying to the American Red Cross about being a Hurricane Katrina victim, authorities said.

Tiffany Signal, 23, who was charged with obtaining property by false pretense, told the Red Cross earlier this week that she was a victim of Hurricane Katrina's damage in New Orleans, according to an arrest warrant.

"She said her residence had been destroyed," said Raleigh Police Maj. Dennis Lane. "She said she lived on the street for a few days with her daughter and then hitchhiked to Raleigh."

The warrant stated that Signal used a fake name and address and received a debit card with a balance of $665. She also received a 14-day pass to a hotel.

On Wednesday night, within 48 hours of receiving the debit card and pass, Signal was arrested at the Raleigh hotel where the Red Cross had given her the pass, authorities said. She had not spent the entire balance on the card when she was taken into custody.

Lane said police received a tip and then notified the Red Cross about the potential fraud.

Barry Porter, of the Red Cross' Triangle chapter, said that screening potential victims was a difficult task because many of them had lost everything, including their identification.

"I'd rather err on the side of helping a family and deal with the dishonest person," Porter said. The Red Cross helps more than 600 displaced families in the Raleigh area, including hundreds of families in an evacuee shelter.

During her court appearance Thursday, Signal told a judge that she did not have a job. There was also an eviction notice on her Raleigh apartment's door. Neighbors told WRAL that they knew Signal was going to lie to the Red Cross, but thought she had no alternatives.

"That's a possibility certainly, but there are other resources for locals here," Lane said. "These resources (for Katrina victims) are meant for those who were victimized and have nowhere to stay."

Signal is in the Wake County Jail under $3,000 bond.

A spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department said Thursday that it is unaware of any other issues of fraud as a result of Katrina relief efforts. Anyone with information on other suspected cases, however, can call the police department at

(919) 890-3335.