The Island of the blind tries to crack down on fraud
Even by the extravagant standards of Greek corruption, the scam uncovered by Stelios Bozikis is so brazen that it is hard to credit.
Nearly 600 people on the Ionian island of Zakynthos - of which Mr Bozikis was recently elected mayor - managed to have themselves falsely declared blind, entitling them to fat monthly cheques from the state.
They included taxi drivers, shopkeepers and restaurant owners, farmers tending the island's patchwork of vineyards and olive groves, and a few amateur hunters, whose purported disability did not stop them from spending their weekends shooting rabbits and birds in the rugged mountains of the interior.
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.
That represents nearly two per cent of the island's population of 35,000 - nearly 10 times the average rate of blindness in the rest of Europe, according to the World Health Organisation.
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