Food Stamps are designed to help people in need get access to healthy and nutritious food. But like all government programs, there is opportunity for abuse and there are people out there who are going to use the program for what it was not intended for. The government has stepped up enforcement efforts to catch people who about the SNAP benefits program. We have to point out that the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients are using the program for what it was intended for. Therefore this article is in no way trying to give the impression that the food stamps program is filled with fraud. On the contrary, we are actually highlighting the few bad apples who bring negative media attention to a program that is largely a force for good in our country. There is no denying it, with some 45 million people on food stamps in the United States, the program is an important safety net that is a bedrock for many families that are struggling. In fact, the program is so central to the lives of many, such that even a dip in those receiving food stamps does affect some companies on Wall Street as shown by a recent article.
Food Stamp Abuse is Growing
A recent story that caught our attention has to do with a Federal Government investigation into a Waterbury, Connecticut store that was alleged to be illegally trafficking in food stamps. The store allowed food stamps/EBT Card holders to come into their store and redeem their money for illegal goods, including cigarettes, glass pipes, bongs and hookahs. In exchange for allowing these EBT Card holders to buy illegal items, the store will charge them more for the items. It was discovered that during the 18 months that the government investigated the store, food stamp redemptions at the store totaled approximately $3.2 million, compared to the $120,000 – $240,000 that the store would otherwise get from food stamp sales in a given year. That is a staggering level of fraud, but it’s an indication of the extent to which some will go to divert money that is meant to help needy individuals and families into other uses.
In another recent case, a corner store owner was arrested in Flint, Michigan for allegedly using EBT benefit cards to buy good to stock up his store. However, that is not surprising at all. People are always going to find a way to cheat the system. Even though there is an approved food stamps list, people still want to buy things that are not on the list. The good news is that the government has increased enforcement to catch these thieves.
As the above video from Ohio shows, these people were arrested for trafficking in $900,000 worth of illegal items using food stamps. And it’s the same story. A small corner store is making a killing accepting food stamps, at a rate that is not normal for a small store. So, the government digs further and finds out there is an illegal activity going on. That’s how these generally unfold.