Republican State Representatives in Massachusetts are calling for changes in how the state manages its welfare system after a group of fraudsters (called grifters in the article) was charged with scamming thousands from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by fraudulently using Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards in the town of Lynn, according to a report from the Boston Herald. The article noted that EBT funds were allegedly used to buy crack cocaine, as well as other items to include alcohol, lottery tickets, and luxury items. Rules vary on what you can and can’t purchase, but this is extreme!
Agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), state troopers and officers with the Lynn Police Department raided four convenience stores that allegedly were allowing customers to withdraw hundreds in cash while keeping half of the money for themselves. (A 50% withdrawal fee – and they say bank fees are expensive.) Eight people were arrested and authorities seized a half-kilo of crack cocaine and 700 grams of heroin. One of the store’s EBT sales reached $524,000 — far exceeding sales of a nearby major supermarket. (I guess when you carry the “right” inventory it’s easy to increase sales revenue!)
While state legislators are now working to change the rules on what can be bought – the question remains is how long has the abuse been going on and how many millions of dollars have been scammed over the years?