SC will use special unit to combat food stamp fraud
Benifit Integrity Program Coordinator Dana Outlaw says the new program will help with the increase in food stamp fraud.
El Cheapo Clerk Georgina Green says she has people try to get money for their food stamps often.
By: Taylor Herlong
Supplemental nutrition assistance, commonly known as food stamps, was created to help people who need assistance feed themselves or their families. South Carolina officials say there are people who abuse this system and use food stamps to purchase things other than food. The state is responding to those committing these crimes by creating a new food stamp fraud unit.
Fraud within the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), has recently become a bigger problem in South Carolina. A $320,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been used to fund a special unit dedicated to combating food stamp fraud. The special unit is backed by South Carolina's Benefit Integrity Program. Coordinator Dana Outlaw says there are multiple types of fraud when it comes to food stamps.
"Well, we have the income and household ineligibility fraud, but we also have trafficking where people sell their EBT benefits for cash or drugs or trade it to other people that's not used for the eligible food items that it's supposed to be used for," said Outlaw.
Gas stations and convenient stores are prime targets for food stamp fraud and trafficking. Owners like are now cracking down and changing their methods of how they accept EBT. El Cheapo Clerk Georgia Green says this is a common problem in their store.
"We've has people come in here and ask can they get five dollars off of the card or whatever. That don't work in this store," said Green.
Even though food stamp fraud only occurs in roughly ten percent of SNAP recipients, Outlaw says we cannot allow this problem to overshadow the positive benefits of the program.
"They hear the negative cases of fraud happening, but there are tons of families that we do help that are eligible and they do provide accurate information and are in need of the benefits," said Outlaw.
Outlaw says if you know someone who is committing fraud, you are asked to call the food stamp fraud hotline at 1(800) 616-1309 or report them online.