Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Fraud


Over 47 million people rely on SNAP benefits to obtain healthy food – but it is estimated that in recent years more than $1 million in benefits were paid to people who were not actually eligible for the program.  Frankly, officials in Fraudia think that figure is low.  SNAP fraud occurs when benefits are exchanged for cash, also referred to as trafficking.  Additionally, SNAP fraud can occur when someone lies on their application to get benefits, or when a retailer provides customers with cash in return for their SNAP benefits.

How is Fraud Perpetrated by the Humbug Gang

In a fraud scheme to make some extra cash on the side, a few store employees that are members of the Humbug Gang decided they would begin trading SNAP benefits for cash.  When customers came in with their Vision cards, store clerks would offer to make a “discount” or “cash back” transaction where they would have the individual swipe their card and give them 50% of their allotted value back in cash.  By doing this, these group members were able to make $350,000 of “pocket money.”

How is fraud perpetuated by the Deceit Family

Donna grew bored of staying at home all day and wanted something different.  She wanted to make some extra cash, but didn’t want to go back to the office setting, and wasn’t looking for anything permanent.  That’s where she got the idea to become a “runner” and commit SNAP fraud.  To do this, she would go downtown and find people who were willing to sell their Vision Cards and personal identification numbers (PINs) for cash.  She would then find a participating store that would offer “discount” or “cash back” transactions where she would receive cash back for the benefits on the card.  To Donna, this was a fun little side project to earn some extra cash and get out of the house.

How the government can prevent it

The government employees of Dolus are working hard to combat SNAP fraud with identity-based solutions.  They will soon require a cross-check of all individuals who apply for SNAP benefits and retail stores who apply to redeem SNAP benefits.  All inquiring individuals will be checked against the comprehensive public records database which includes death records, prison records and a disqualification list to ensure they are eligible to receive benefits.  All retailers looking to receive SNAP benefits will be cross-checked against the disqualification list to ensure they have not already had their authorization revoked – and, if they have, that they have waited a minimum of five years before reauthorization.