Pine Hill is a hamlet in south Alabama, maybe a hundred miles inland, a poor area in a poor state. It apparently had very little damage from Hurricane Katrina–it fared worse in Ivan last year–but it seems a suspicious amount of Red Cross money found its way there.
As word got around that the cheating was going on, the chief of police, John Brown, broke up a gathering at one house where seventy-five people had gotten together to work on filing false claims.
"Some of the Red Cross funds arrived at the Western Union inside the Piggly Wiggly grocery in Camden, the county seat about twenty miles to the east…. [T]he store’s manager said he became curious…when he saw a steady stream of folks from Pine Hill picking up money….[H]e said ‘When folks came in, you could tell just looking at them that something was not on the up and up.’ He asked one ‘little old lady’ who came to pick up a $350 check if she had suffered any losses from the storm. ‘She said no, they were just giving out money.’"
This was not exactly a get-rich-quick scheme. One perp told Brown that "she ate a good meal and went to the Wal-Mart in Thomasville." Says the chief, "Wal-Mart got most of the Red Cross money."