Food stamps have always been a much-needed support system for people who weren’t able to make decent income to buy food. However, it has been discovered that this ultra-essential commodity is being blatantly siphoned off for vacations or even to earn a handsome profit.
Following two separate incidents, it became clear that food stamps are being used to fund vacations, while others are profiteering from the same. Newspaper investigator Jake Larson recently dug out some startling facts about the way food stamps were being used — or rather abused — by Texans, reported Click2Houston.
Using publicly available data, Larson was able to show that over $288,000 was spent by Texans in Hawaii. The money meant to buy food, in the form of food stamps, was being spent to fund vacations. If that amount seems low, Texans spent more than $9 million in San Francisco and a similar amount in sunny Florida. There have been instances of food stamps being spent in Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands as well. Upon posing the question whether the government was aware of the abuse, Health and Human Services Commission spokesperson justified the act saying:
“Low-income family is just like any other family. They want to spend Christmas with their families. They want to travel in the summer. It doesn’t necessarily mean I think they’re having the same type of vacation that a higher income family would have. It also doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the ones paying the travel bill.”
In related news, four San Francisco men have been arrested for allegedly defrauding the state food stamp program of more than $480,000, reported KTVU. Ivy Lai, Alan Wan, Nelson Tse, and Cam Zenh Mong were arrested for allegedly soliciting recipients of CalFresh Benefits, formerly known as food stamps, to sell their benefits for a fraction of its cash value for a two-year period ending in June of 2014. District Attorney George Gascón spoke about the case:
“These conspirators are accused of defrauding a system designed to help the most vulnerable among us. Ripping off a government assistance program that helps those who can’t afford to put food on the table is pretty low.”
Their modus operandi was quite simple. The co-conspirators would obtain the card numbers and PIN numbers from food stamps recipients and then use the card devices registered to Ivy’s Food Company to charge false food purchases to the program. The CalFresh Program would reimburse Ivy’s Food Company for the food purchases that had never occurred.
[Image Credit | WTXL]