COLUMBIA — Overpayments, including due to fraud, for flood-related food stamp benefits last year may have totaled more than $10 million and included some state Department of Social Services workers who filed for benefits, according to a report by South Carolina Inspector General Patrick Maley.
But Maley concluded that DSS was not at fault for the overpayments and that federal guidelines do not require verification of qualifying disaster information provided by applicants.
Lawmakers had been suspicious of fraud in some locations, especially Greenville, where more than 12,000 applied for one-time Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or D-SNAP, benefits but only 200 applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid related to last October's floods.
"The state should be fully aware the low D-SNAP application management controls should not be relied upon to prevent applicants claiming a fraudulent qualifying disaster event in lesser hard hit approved disaster areas," the report concludes. "This may have been the case in Greenville and Spartanburg Counties, which clearly had proportionately less disaster damage than other disaster declared counties as indicated by FEMA reporting."
An audit of flood-related food stamp benefits awarded in 24 South Carolina counties last year found 68 cases of fraud in Greenville County, DSS disclosed in May.
In fact, according to DSS, nearly one out of every four fraud cases it discovered in an audit was from Greenville County.
DSS conducted an audit of 9,029 applications statewide, weighted more heavily in counties like Greenville that had less flood damage, and found 297 that were fraudulent, DSS said in May.
For more, read : IG: Flood food stamp overpayments