Retailers who have been banned by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for food stamp trafficking are still redeeming more than $65 million in benefits from the program, a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector general (IG) found.
The report sheds light on fraud within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), with the IG concluding the integrity of the program is “at risk.”
“The Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) does not have clear procedures and guidance to carry out key oversight and enforcement activities to address SNAP retailer fraud, or adequate authority to prevent multiple instances of fraud—either by a particular owner or within a particular location,” the Aug. 20 audit report states.
“As a result, the integrity of SNAP is at risk because FNS does not consistently provide deterrents for trafficking,” the IG said. SNAP “trafficking” means exchanging food stamp benefits for cash.
As record numbers of Americans are on food stamps (47,635,297 as of May 2013), the number of authorized retailers has also increased dramatically. A total of 246,565 stores participated in 2012, a 40 percent increase since 2007. With more retailers comes a greater opportunity for fraud.
Read more at The Washington Free Beacon. By Elizabeth Harrington.
Photo Credit: barackmagazines (Creative Commons)
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