Action Taken Against Food Stamp Fraud

     WASHINGTON (CN) – In an effort to crack down on the illegal uses of food stamps, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service made final changes to regulations for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
     In a rule published last week, the Food and Nutrition Service finalized provisions for when a client or retailer can be disqualified from having SNAP benefits.
     Under the new rules, a client can be disqualified from SNAP benefits if he or she uses food stamps to buy products with container deposits (such as bottles or cans), throws the product away, and returns the container for cash.
     The rules also stipulate penalties for retailers who abuse the SNAP program, including theft of SNAP benefits and “other forms of trafficking through complicit arrangements between the retailer and the SNAP client.”
     “Examples of the latter would be the purchase, by retailers, of products originally purchased by clients with SNAP benefits and re-sold to stores in exchange for cash or other non-eligible items,” the agency wrote.
     Another example: “Retailers taking possession of SNAP client cards and PINs, using the SNAP benefits to purchase stock for the store, and subsequently returning the card and PIN to the client with cash or other non-eligible items provided in exchange for having used the SNAP benefit.”
     The final rule was made in line with a section of the 2008 Farm Bill to update the definition of SNAP benefit trafficking.
     The rule also mandates that if a client is disqualified from the government’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, he or she must also be disqualified from SNAP benefits.
     The rule will go into effect March 25.

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