Wednesday, March 22, 2023
HomenewsNew Jersey's Food Stamp Fraud: How Much, and Who is at Risk?

New Jersey’s Food Stamp Fraud: How Much, and Who is at Risk?

It’s sad but true: Billions of your federal tax funds are being diverted to criminal organizations in New Jersey and other parts of the nation and the world.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps, is being routinely fraudulently in New Jersey, according to new research by LexisNexis.

825,000 people who qualify for SNAP benefits are receiving $800 million in payments, according to Haywood Talcove, CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ Government Group. He predicts fraud of $160 million over the following six months.

Stealing From the Government

SNAP is a $147 billion program with outdated technologies, outdated procedures, lots of money, and little identity protection, according to him, who claimed that post-COVID criminals have grown more interested in government assistance programs.

He claimed that skimmers are typically installed by thieves on top of SNAP card readers at smaller retail food stores, “so that when the food stamp user goes to buy their milk, bread, or other necessities and they enter their PIN, they gave it to a criminal.”

In addition, Talcove reported a sharp spike in phony emails, texts, and phone calls informing recipients that their cards have been temporarily suspended and requesting a PIN code to reactivate them.

Never, ever, ever give such information, “said he. “Hang up. That call was not made in the United States or from New Jersey. That call most likely originated in Nigeria, Romania, China, or Russia.

There is No Effort to Increase Security

Congress has permitted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer two free SNAP benefit refills to people whose cards have been stolen, but Talcove argued that no steps have been taken to lessen the program’s security flaws.

New Jersey's Food Stamp Fraud How Much, and Who is at Risk

According to Talcove, SNAP security may be readily increased by requiring SNAP benefit cardholders to provide identification when shopping and updating the cards so that they are read by a chip rather than a swipe.

Other measures, according to him, to reduce fraud include restricting the number of cards that can be used simultaneously (currently, one person is allowed to use 50 SNAP benefit cards because they might be purchasing food for a group home or apartment building), as well as integrating basic geo-location tools into the system.

How Was Everything Found Out?

Reviewing local police data, according to Talcove, revealed this large pattern of SNAP card theft, and if you wander onto the dark web, “there are a mass of criminal groups that are organizing to steal government benefits and it all starts there,” he added.

How to Safeguard Your Card

He suggests the following to prevent con artists from obtaining your SNAP benefits card information:

  • Avoid smaller retail outlets and only shop for groceries at major supermarkets and box stores.
  • Hang up if a caller, email, or text message requests the details of your SNAP benefits card.

He noted out if someone reports their SNAP benefits have been taken, “they’ve got to then call their local office and they have to wait four to six weeks to get their card renewed. It isn’t right.”

When it comes to the SNAP benefits program, he says “the same tsunami is coming unless we do something about it soon,” similar to what happened with unemployment insurance during the COVID pandemic.

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