Food Stamps Sold on Facebook, eBay; U.S. Spends $7 Mil to Crack Down on Fraud
JULY 07, 2014
It’s bad enough that the Obama administration has shattered records by spending a mind-boggling $80.4 billion to give a record number of people free groceries, now it’s dedicating millions more to crack down on fraud that includes using social media to illegally sell and buy food stamps online.
It’s an outrageous and senseless waste of taxpayer dollars to allow a government handout program to become so bloated that it requires such a huge allocation to counter corruption. Judicial Watch has reported extensively on the fraud surrounding the government’s scandal-plagued food stamp program in the last few years. Under President Obama, the food stamp rolls are busting, with a record 50 million people getting free food from Uncle Sam.
Recipients include illegal immigrants thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency that distributes food stamps, and the Mexican government. Last year JW uncovered records that show the agency has teamed up with Mexico to promote participation by illegal aliens in the U.S. food stamp program. The effort includes Spanish-language flyers at Mexican Embassies ensuring that their nationals don’t need to declare their immigration status to get financial assistance from the American government.
As a result the USDA’s grocery giveaway has been long tainted with fraud and corruption that’s been well documented in federal audits and local media reports around the country. Back in 2012 the agency’s Inspector General told Congress that many food stamp recipients use their welfare benefit to buy drugs, weapons and other contraband from unscrupulous vendors. Some trade food stamps for reduced amounts of cash, the USDA watchdog, Phyllis Fong, told federal lawmakers, estimating that the fraud had cost taxpayers nearly $200 million up to that point.
That was two years ago and the problem has only gotten worse as the rolls have expanded. So the Obama administration has decided to spend $7 million in fiscal year 2014 to crack down on food stamp fraud. The money will help states “strengthen recipient integrity activities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),” according to the grant announcement. A few years ago, the Obama administration renamed food stamps Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to eliminate the stigma associated with the welfare program.
The administration has coined the multi-million-dollar initiative “SNAP Trafficking Prevention Grant Program” and it will assist states across the U.S. with cash to implement process improvements designed to detect, investigate and prosecute individuals that unlawfully exchange food stamps for cash payments. Offenders can be permanently disqualified from the program or be criminally charged, according to the announcement. “Program violations may include a number of activities, such as falsifying income or identity in order to be eligible for benefits they may not be entitled to, or by using benefits for anything other than their intended purpose,” the announcement reads.
Among the anti-fraud initiatives that the money will fund are strategies to identify and successfully investigate attempts to buy or sell SNAP benefits online using social media such as Facebook, Twitter or ecommerce websites like Craigslist and eBay. This means that American taxpayers are getting fleeced, first by doling out tens of billions of dollars to supposedly feed the poor then wasting millions more to bust the “needy” selling their government benefit on Facebook and eBay.
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