Fraud at the Checkout Line
Understaffed food stamp fraud prevention units and lax anti-fraud security on Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards have created a thriving underground market where food stamp recipients illegally sell and trade their taxpayer-funded benefits, often using online websites like Backpage.com, Craigslist, or social media. That is one of the findings of a new report by the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) examining how the poverty industry has become a massive profit center for politically-connected corporations like JP Morgan, who have made at least $560,492,596 since 2004 to process the EBT cards of food stamp recipients in 24 states and two U.S. territories.
The fraud and abuse in this system must surely be worse than imagined, as there are clearly people that don't really need this assistance who, under Obama's relaxed policies, are now able to enter this expanding program. And they don't even need to sell or trade their EBT cards to benefit.
A few months back, while grocery shopping, I witnessed a prime example of such abuse. A young (able-bodied looking) couple was in the checkout line in front of me with a cart full of groceries. I noticed something interesting when they placed their items on the conveyer belt to be scanned. They first placed all of the food or household items down in one group and then put down a divider. On the other side of the divider they placed a couple of cases of beer and several large bottles of hard liquor. The couple then proceeded to pay for the food and household items wit an EBT card and then told the checker that they "had to" pay cash for the alcohol.
If what I witnessed was as it appeared, this couple obviously didn't need to be on taxpayer-funded assistance, being that alcohol isn't exactly necessary to sustain life (at least before Obama became President).
Unfortunately, I think the only thing rare or unusual about the above transactions was the possibility of seeing them take place side-by-side in real time. When someone is receiving food assistance that they really don't need, it frees up money that they should be using for food and other necessities. This "spare" cash can then be used for any number of luxury items that can't be found in a grocery store such as: furniture, flat-screen TV's, iPhones (if they don't already have a free Obamaphone), athletic shoes, or even payments on automobiles.
When all of these other items are purchased, you just don't get the luxury of seeing this normally silent fraud take place side-by-side in such an obvious fashion.
No wonder politicians are spending taxpayer money to get more people on food stamps. They aren't just buying food -- they're buying votes.
Scott blogs at http://www.politiseeds.com/