Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud a.k.a. food stamp fraud will never end until government program beneficiaries stop trading in their benefits to fraudulent store owners, looking to make a quick buck. An article posted on TurnTo10.com states that a two-year investigation into food stamp fraud in Providence, Rhode Island has ended, yielding the arrest and conviction of 11 convenience store owners and their employees. (But is it really over?)
The story states that a street worker used a hidden camera to provide evidence to convict the last person to be sentenced. (Doesn’t that make you wonder if the meter maid you see writing tickets for parking violations and the garbage man you see riding on the back of the truck is really who they appear to be?) Apparently, the camera captured transactions at convenience stores where clerks exchanged cash for benefits on EBT cards. (The stores generally split the proceeds 50/50.)
The investigation into the scam, which is estimated to have cost the State of Rhode Island $3.6 million, was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the office of Inspector General, the IRS and the Rhode Island State Police. The last store owner to get convicted stole $400,000 from the Food Stamp Program. He will serve 18 months in prison for his deceptive acts.
Congratulations to the food stamp fraud-busting team. Even though this investigation was successful in catching a number of food stamp criminals, this problem remains. As long as there are benefits to be had, fraud will continue at the expense of those who truly qualify for and deserve the benefit.