USDA Cracks Down On SNAP Fraud

The US Department of Agriculture has long made it a priority to prevent the abuse of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a practice also known as SNAP fraud. Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced today new steps USDA will take to crack down on the abuse of SNAP.

“Where there is a will to commit malfeasance, bad actors will try to find a way, and we must do everything we can to stay ahead of the curve,” Concannon said. “Today’s announcement reaffirms USDA’s ongoing commitment to cracking down on abuse and protecting taxpayers’ investment in this critical nutrition lifeline.”

SNAP fraud is the exchange of SNAP benefits for cash. This process is called trafficking and is already against the law. In today’s announcement, USDA expanded the legal definition of “trafficking” to include not only directly exchanging SNAP benefits for cash but indirectly doing so as well. The definition now forbids “water-dumping,” purchasing beverages in containers with returnable deposits for the purpose of discarding the liquid and returning the containers to obtain cash refunds. USDA is also forbidding the sale or purchase of products purchased with SNAP benefits for the purpose of exchanging those products for cash.

Trafficking has dropped over the last two decades. USDA reports that fraud has dropped from 4 cents on the dollar in 1993 to about 1 cent in 2006 – 2008. Over 100 analysts and investigators across the country are dedicated to making sure SNAP is managed properly.

SNAP is the largest of USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children, and over 40 percent of recipients living in households with income. Over 46 million people rely on the program to help put food on the table. SNAP fraud threatens the livelihood of many of America’s citizens.

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