Whilst we all have some sympathy for the Greek people in their hour of financial need, it seems some are not helping the situation. They are in fact helping themselves. Nothing wrong with that, is there? Well read on.
The people of the Greek Island of Zante or Zakynthos though are not loathe to bending the rules in order to benefit themselves. When Stelios Bozikis was newly elected as Mayor of Zante a "scam" came to light. 600 local people on this Greek Island had somehow or another managed to all be categorised as blind, warranting hefty pay cheques from the State each month.
Unbelievably no official had challenged the claims of blindness even though the list included taxi drivers and shopkeepers. In fact the claims included a whole range of professions and workers on Zante. A report in the Telegraph makes for interesting reading. Apparently, "Other "blind" locals have been seen cheerfully playing cards and backgammon in the tavernas and bars of the island. "Out of 650 registered blind people on the island, we estimate that at least 600 are fraudulent claims," the mayor told The Sunday Telegraph in his office overlooking the boats crowding the port of Zakynthos Town, the main settlement."
The population of the island is around 35,000 so 600 is a large percentage yet no official questioned the claims. The new Mayor is by profession a lawyer and he has stated that he is committed to cleaning up the island's affairs. Mr Bozikis is a member of the Socialist Pasok Party. He maintains that there have been many other fraudulent claims, involving welfare cheats, during the last decade.
Statistics show that welfare cheats in Greece cost the country, or perhaps the EU, 111million Euros in 2011. Each fraudulent claim for blindness costs around 350 Euros each month. If the whole 600 claims are shown to be fraudulent that is a hell of a lot of money.
The new mayor suspended all welfare payments until investigations were completed. Apart from stealing money from the state there are accusations of vote buying. It would seem that the former mayor was happy to sign off benefit claims as a reward for a vote.
Of course genuine claimants will now suffer. The blind fraud has angered those who are visually impaired on Zante. It will also anger Europe. Whilst we all chew over the problems of Greece discovering such blatant fraud will not help the people's cause. It will seem as if we are paying through the nose, to help the Greek People, whilst experiencing cuts our self, and for what?