IG: Welfare Recipients Traded Food Stamps for Cash to Buy Drugs and Guns

“In some cases, recipients have exchanged benefits for drugs, weapons, and other contraband. When trafficking occurs unchecked, families do not receive the intended nutritional assistance, and unscrupulous retailers profit at the expense of the American public.” USDA IG Phyllis Fong

USDA IG Phyllis Fong

Some of the record total of 46.3 millions recipients of food stamps–a federal welfare program–have traded their benefits at a discount with corrupt retailers to get cash to buy drugs and weapons, the inspector general (IG) for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) told Congress today.

The IG testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about fraud affecting the USDA-administered food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) component is charged with handling SNAP.

USDA IG Phyllis Fong highlighted food stamp trafficking, which refers to the sale or purchase of food stamp benefits for monetary gain, which is punishable by disqualification from receiving future benefits, fines, and criminal prosecution.

“In terms of fraud, we have seen many types of trafficking in SNAP benefits. By giving a recipient $50 in cash for $100 in benefits, an unscrupulous retailer can make a significant profit; recipients, of course, are then able to spend the cash however they like,” said Fong in her prepared remarks.


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