SNAP EBT Cards Used to Buy Cocaine and Alcohol

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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?

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Pols demand overhaul after EBT bust,” by Dave Wedge and O’Ryan Johnson, published by the Boston Herald, December 14, 2011.

Beacon Hill Republicans are calling for a massive overhaul of the state’s welfare system after a crew of Lynn grifters was charged with allegedly scamming thousands from taxpayer-funded EBT cards — including some who allegedly took the public money as payment for crack.

”I want to see major reform here in Massachusetts,” fumed state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, a Taunton Republican heading a legislative panel reviewing the EBT program. ”You can spend that money on anything you want. There’s no oversight.”

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.