NINE RETAILERS ARRESTED FOR MILLIONS IN FOOD STAMP FRAUD - TRAFFICKING - FBI BALTIMORE link to article. (Arrests are being made around the country.)
"A federal grand jury has indicted nine retail store owners or operators on federal charges of food stamp fraud and wire fraud in connection with schemes to illegally redeem food stamp benefits in exchange for cash. The indictments allege the retailers received almost $7 million in federal payments for transactions in which they did not provide any food, a fraud scheme commonly known as “food stamp trafficking.” Stores allegedly split the proceeds with food stamp recipients. The indictments were returned last week and unsealed today. Federal agents arrested the defendants and executed search warrants at the stores and related locations this morning..." FBI web site.
Our DO YOU SELL YOUR EBT? post is very popular, but we're not telling anyone to sell their stamps. We understand that some of you do because you need things that the cash will buy and that no, you're not all using that money for beer or drugs... you are desperate.
You might not be tempted to sell your stamps for cash if you could find a better job or your GR was a higher amount or maybe if your case manager wasn't threatening to kick you out of a shelter if you don't put more money into your account there.
It's illegal to traffic food stamps and the people who the FBI investigates and arrests are usually the stores that are giving cash for the fake sale. EBT users go into these stores with say $50 worth of stamps and the store gives them maybe $25 dollars and out they go with no groceries. (We hear that when regular folks are selling to other regular folks the take is about 20%.) How does that work? They go shopping together and go out the door with groceries. Then one person takes the groceries and gives the other person the cash agreed on. The people who get caught selling their stamps may not be arrested, but they may never be able to get the benefit again. Over a lifetime that can really hurt you. It might even contribute to your death.
EBT/Food Stamps/Cal Fresh benefits may soon be slashed. The House says slash them. The Senate may not allow it.
So let's go through some issues here.
First of all, you apply for these benefits when you are unemployed or working a low paying job. For instance people who work at Fast Food places may qualify for EBT. Every 3 months (in California it may soon be every 6 months) you report in. You resign the paperwork and if you read the fine print you'll see there are penalties for selling the stamps.
To be realistic, EBT/Food Stamps/ Cal Fresh are considered SUPPLEMENTARY FOOD ASSISTANCE but many people make do with this amount every month. Many EBT users are ALSO going to Food Banks to stay in budget. Homeless who cannot cook such as people living in rooms with no kitchen, SRO's (Single Room Occupancy) and so on and cannot cook have a bad time trying to eat a variety of health foods and afford it.
So if you are HUNGRY and NEED THE STAMPS, where are you getting enough good food so that you can actually afford to sell the stamps? Some people are eating at shelters or feeds. Some get some food from friends or family or eat real cheap, like lots of hot dogs!
Some people actually go a bit hungry so they can get that cash and pay their vehicle registration.
The basic problem is POVERTY, isn't it?
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