Federal Food Stamp Progam–Much Fraud, Few Prosecutions


The federal food stamp program, with 44 million recipients and only 40 inspectors, is rife with fraud, says James Bovard in the Wall Street Journal. The Government Accountability Office says retailers who traffic illegally in food stamps by redeeming stamps for cash or alcohol or other prohibited items “are less likely to face criminal penalties or prosecution” than in earlier years. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Wisconsin food-stamp recipients routinely sell their benefit cards on Facebook. There are few prosecutions in Wisconsin.

Troy Hutson, chief of Washington state’s food-stamp program, resigned after a Seattle television station revealed that some food-stamp recipients were selling their cards on Craigslist or brazenly cashing them out on street corners (for 50 cents on the dollar) and using the proceeds for illegal drugs and prostitution. Thirty percent of the inmates in the Polk County, Ia., jail were collecting food stamps that were being sent to their non-jail mailing addresses in 2009. Iowa could not prosecute them for fraud because the state’s food-stamp form failed to ask applicants whether they were heading for the slammer.

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