State investigates fraud for disaster food stamps
DENHAM SPRINGS- Susan Hicks, a teacher in Livingston Parish, is one of thousands of people under scrutiny for her disaster food stamps. After her home flooded in August, she got $400 when she told the state she was broke.
"I put zero because I just didn't know," said Hicks. "I wasn't trying to defraud anyone."
In her stress, Hicks said she forgot about her retirement benefits from another job. However, she thought disaster food stamps were for all flood victims.
After the flood 123,000 people received emergency food stamps. As of Thursday 3,400 cases are under fraud review according to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
"Most of our fraud cases are either people not reporting sources of income, under-reporting income, or incorrect household composition," said Sammy Guillory with the state.
Hicks said she didn't realize there was an income limit but Guillory said that should have been made clear to her when she applied. Hicks said she'll be happy to pay back the money but doesn't appreciate her harsh treatment by investigators.
"The investigator was very stern and talked down to me like I was a repeat offender," she said.
Guillory said it's easier for people to qualify for disaster food stamps as compared to the standard program because the government wants to disperse aid to victims quickly.