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Proposed law would bar lottery jackpot winners from food stamps, SNAP

Lottery winners who continue to cash in on food stamps are being targeted by the U.S. Senate in a crackdown being applauded by Bay State welfare fraud fighters who say the reform is long overdue.
In Massachusetts, lottery winners are not reported to welfare officials.
“It’s a fantastic move,” said Beth Bresnahan, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts State Lottery. “We need to make sure benefits are going to people in need.”
The Lottery scrubs all winners who rake in $20,000 or more a year by sending their names to the state attorney general’s office, the state Department of Revenue and the Office of the State Auditor — but not the state Department of Transitional Assistance.
That could all change if the U.S. House of Representatives adopts the U.S. Senate version of the almost $100 billion farm bill.
“If you win the lottery, you shouldn’t get food stamps,” said state Rep. David Linsky, chairman of the House Post Audit and Oversight Committee. “Any steps the federal government takes to root out fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is welcome.”
Linsky’s committee is probing abuse in the state welfare system, with hearings set for Monday with state Auditor Suzanne Bump and Tuesday with DTA Commissioner Stacey Monahan.
The hearings follow last month’s shocking audit by Bump’s office showing millions in welfare benefits going to more than 1,100 dead people. Linsky’s committee is also investigating the $100,000 in welfare benefits given to the family of marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
The farm bill, passed 66-27 by the U.S. Senate last week, also calls for blocking college students from collecting SNAP benefits if their families are not considered low income; targeting retailers who traffic in EBT cards and forbidding liquor stores and tobacco shops from accepting food stamps.  >>MORE<<

Oh great. Bring up food stamps and you’ll see people frothing at the mouth, insisting that welfare fraud is rampant and they’re all cheaters (“except for my cousin/sister-in-law/mother that one time they lost their job and really needed it…”). And now here’s probably the most heinous example of welfare fraud we’ve seen in a long time: A millionaire on food stamps. But I still say this story is the exception that proves the rule. Food stamps fraud is rare.

Fraudulent Food Stamp Nation

The accounts come from the left-leaning Salon, which published the friends’ food journey under the provocative headline: Hipsters on food stamps.
That was in March 2010, when 44.5 million people were part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Now, more than 47.7 million are receiving food stamps.
Recently, Ohio was targeted for participation in a new federal program to curb abuse in the food stamp program. Last year, according to The Courier (Findlay, Ohio), the state auditor “became aware of scams involving electronic benefit cards and people selling them, then seeking another one by claiming it was lost.” In 2011, 17,000 food stamp recipients in Ohio received 10 or more reissued cards. The fear, of course, is that those cards were not lost, but rather sold.
A November 2012 article from The Evening Times (Little Falls, New York) reveals just how quickly the cost of food stamp fraud accumulates. The local Welfare Fraud Task Force Team arrested nine individuals for amassing $107,512.04 in “unentitled benefits.” Two of the individuals, a husband and wife, “failed to report income on their applications” and “received $13,465 in food stamp benefits” during “the time period of March 2009 to April 2012.”
It is not just individuals gaming the system though. Three days after Barack Obama was reelected as president, The Enterprise (Brockton, Massachusetts) reported five local stores were accused of making illegal food stamp transactions.  >>MORE<<

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