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USDA takes further action on SNAP fraud

Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon on Thursday announced new penalties on retailers that defraud the supplemental nutrition assistance program [SNAP] or food stamps, and a requirement that states make sure ineligible people do not participate in the program.

At a news conference and in a news release, Concannon said that until now, when a retailer was found guilty of fraud or abuse, USDA could either disqualify the retailer from participating in SNAP, or issue a financial penalty, but not both. From now on, it can do both.

Concannon also released third quarter, fiscal year 2012 results of USDA work in fighting fraudulent activity in SNAP retail stores, tallying final actions to sanction or disqualify retailers violating program rules. In the third quarter, USDA staff took final actions to:
  • Impose sanctions, through fines or temporary disqualifications, on more than 574 stores found violating program rules; and
  • Permanently disqualify 1,016 stores for trafficking SNAP benefits (i.e. exchanging SNAP benefits for cash) or falsifying an application.

Concannon also said that USDA has:
  • Sent letters to the CEOs of Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Twitter to reiterate the need to help prevent the illegal sale or purchase of SNAP benefits online;
  • Proposed a rule to provide states the option to require recipients to make contact with the state when there have been an excessive number of requests for EBT card replacements;
  • Increased documentation required for high-risk stores applying to redeem SNAP benefits;
  • Continuing to notify state social service agencies and federal agency partners about violators, including information on program recipients with suspicious transactions at stores that have been sanctioned for trafficking so that the recipients can be further investigated by states.