State Cracks Down On Flood Fraud - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

State Cracks Down On Flood Fraud

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by Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General swore out four warrants against people in Davidson County claiming they defrauded taxpayers.

The suspects claimed their homes were damaged in the flood, but state investigators said they were trying to cheat the system.

Officers with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department arrested three of the people Wednesday.

"I would characterize these cases as out and out fraud, and we're prosecuting them as such," said DHS Inspector General Alan Hall.

Police arrested Enaruna Igharo after DHS said she received Disaster Relief Food Stamps in the amount of $200.00 and emergency cash totaling $250.00. 

She told DHS that her apartment near Mill Creek flooded, but neighbor Jim Snyder said the water did not come close to their front door.

"No water, no flood" said Snyder.

Regulators take this kind of fraud seriously. 

"People that would take money away from the people that really need it and deserve it, that's just unacceptable," Hall said. "We can tell what areas flooded and what areas weren't flooded."

Investigators have combed through Nashville Electric Service records to see which areas had power outages. 

People can receive emergency food stamps if their power was out for more than twelve hours.

Police arrested Steven Clark after he received Disaster Relief Food Stamps, but DHS discovered his Madison apartment did not flood or lose power for the required twelve hours.

Since the flood more than 12,000 families have received cash assistance totaling more than $5 million. 

DHS officials said the vast majority deserves the money, but some were looking for a fast buck.

"We will find them. We will continue to look for them and we will prosecute them when we find them," Hall said.

All of those arrested face misdemeanor charges because the amount of money involved was less than $1,000.

Officials expect more arrests in the next few weeks.

DHS has a hotline you can call if you know someone getting flood assistance illegally. The number is 1-800-241-2629.

E-mail: bhall@newschannel5.com

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