Food Stamp Fraud RETAILER TRAFFICKING
There are necessities in life that are required, such as food and water, that are sometimes hard to get for some people. They will then often do anything possible in order to get these necessities. One of the ways that people get the items that they need for the home when they don’t have money from other forms of income is to sell their SNAP benefits. SNAP is a nutrition program that is accepted in just about every state. It’s a way for families to purchase the foods that are needed for the family when they don’t make enough money from working or if they are unable to work. There is an application process to go through and reviews that are completed while the family has the SNAP benefits.
Households have bills that they have to pay each month. Those who have food stamps often find that it’s difficult to pay those bills because of the lack of money, which is why they receive food stamp benefits in the first place. Because of the lack of jobs and the lack of higher paying jobs, making it difficult to simply survive each day, some people resort to activities that are considered a crime where SNAP benefits are concerned.
In 1996, TANF was developed in the country under Bill Clinton. It was devised as a temporary solution to help people financially so that they could get back on their feet. The food stamp program was also seeing more users because of the recession at the time. The USDA is in control of the SNAP program. It has added convenience stores and other types of retail stores to the list of grocery stores that are eligible to accept food stamps. This can make it a bit easier for recipients to exchange their benefits for toiletries and cash if the retailer is willing to take part and assist the consumer.
Any kind of food stamp trafficking is considered fraud. When retailers are involved and commit fraud, it’s sometimes the worst kind of fraudulent activity that can be committed and can have devastating impacts for the business as well as the consumer. The retailer could be put out of business, and the consumer could be denied from being eligible to receive SNAP benefits for an indefinite period of time. If the business is not closed, then the retailer could lose its ability to accept SNAP benefits and face high fines.
There are regulations in place that tend to curb the activity between retailers and consumers so that they don’t exchange food stamp benefits for cash, but the USDA and other government agencies can’t find everyone who is committing these acts unless there are tips given by other consumers or businesses that know that the activity is taking place. If any information is received about trafficking, then the retail store involved is looked at frequently compared to stores that aren’t under investigation. The store is subject to random audits and would need to submit more paperwork to the USDA or a government office in order to show that there is no fraud taking place. Sometimes, the retailer will go before a jury to hear the decision that is made of whether the business can continue to accept food stamps in the future or not. At other times, the retailer has to abide by the decision made by the USDA. An attorney can often assist the retailer with an appeal, but it’s important to find an attorney who can use a defensive strategy to show that no fraudulent acts occurred to begin with or that any issues have been corrected.