USDA And States Work to Reduce Fraud in Nutrition Assistance Programs

by Mercator Advisory Group 0

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed new rules to reduce fraud in its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that would give states like Minnesota the ability to investigate people who repeatedly request new benefits cards. Although the name of the program was changed in 2008, most people still refer to the assistance provided as ‘Food Stamps.’ From the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed rules Thursday that would allow states to better hold accountable citizens who make an excessive number of claims that their benefit cards have been lost or stolen. Such activity is considered a red flag for a type of food stamp “trafficking” that entails a recipient selling their food debit card to a buyer at a discount in exchange for cash. After the buyer uses it at the grocery store, the original owner of the benefits card calls to have it canceled and requests a new one.

Nearly 3 percent of the 535,520 low-income Minnesotans receiving those benefits have sought four or more replacement benefit cards, behind only South Dakota, Oklahoma and Washington, D.C.

The incidence of fraud in the SNAP program dropped 56 percent from 1999 to 2009, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office, in part due to the government moving to distribute all benefits electronically in 2004.

Click here to read more from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.