The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP Benefits) is a program run by the United States Department of Agriculture to provide nutrition assistance to low income household. This is to help them purchase nutritious foods that they would not otherwise be able to buy due to limited household income. The program is popularly called Food Stamps. Once a household is approved for the program, they are issued a debit card called an EBT card, which can be used to buy food that is on the approved list. The SNAP benefits program is run at the state level but funded at the federal level. The federal government sets the broader guidelines for the program and states have to administer the program with these minimum standards set at the federal level but can add additional criteria specific to their states.
SNAP Benefits Fraud Video
Like many government programs, the food stamps program is a source of fraud and not a week goes by without a group of people getting arrested in one state or another and charged with food assistance fraud and YouTube is littered with videos of people that have been arrested and prosecuted for illegally using food support money. There are several ways this fraudulent activity happens. The first method is where people with Georgia EBT cards conspire with retailers to trade their funds for cash. They will swipe their entire balance at the store as if they are purchasing approved foods, then the retailer will give them cash instead – but it will be less than the value on the card. This way, the retailer pockets the difference and the cardholder gets cash to buy whatever they want.
Another method by which this kind of fraud happens is where retailers allow people to buy food that is not on the approved list. According to the USDA, these are the approved food items for EBT purchases:
Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy:
- Foods for the household to eat, such as:
- breads and cereals;
- fruits and vegetables;
- meats, fish and poultry; and
- dairy products.
- Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.
In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals, especially those on social security benefits.
As you can see, the focus is on nutritious foods. But those who want to buy processed or cooked food are able to get around these limits my conspiring with retailers to get what they want at the expense of the tax payers whose aim for this program is to help households in need by the basic foods they need to be able to live a healthy lifestyle. But usually, some people who get these benefits want to use the money to buy unhealthy food, drugs and alcohol. The federal government is serious about catching these people and as you can see from the videos above, a lot of people are caught and sent to prison for a very long time for committing SNAP benefits fraud. Watch the video and pay attention to what they are being charged with.