Food Stamps For Tattoos: Parlor Owner Arrested

Food stamps for tattoos were allegedly accepted at a Raleigh, N.C., tattoo parlor, according to police.

The owner of the place was allegedly accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards -- which provide food stamp benefits to low-income families -- from several customers as payment for body art on several occasions this month. A US Department of Agriculture investigation revealed this alleged food stamp fraud. In addition, a confidential police informant allegedly met the tattoo artist/owner five different times during which EBT card benefits were exchanged for tattoo work. According to WNCN, "The informant twice sold [the owner] food stamps. During two other meetings, the informant received $600 worth of tattoo work in exchange for EBT card benefits."

Police charged the owner of Ink Addiction Tattooz in Raleigh with "buying or selling/distribution of food stamps and conspiracy to obtain property under false pretense." Police previously had executed a search warrant on the premises for evidence of food stamp fraud.

A federal government report last month suggested that $460 million in of food stamp benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program were paid to those households whose income may have exceeded the eligibility limit.

The US House of Representatives is considering a bill that would cut food stamp spending by about $4 billion a year and allow states to implement work requirements for those on public assistance and otherwise tighten eligibility standards. More people are on food stamps than ever before -- about 14 percent of the US population -- and the cost of the program has more than doubled in the past five years. The food stamp program currently costs the taxpayer about $80 billion a year.

The Agriculture Department claims that it will be imposing tougher penalties on stores that traffic in food stamps and will also do more to root out individual applicant fraud.

According to the New York Post, state food stamp recipients are sending barrels of food overseas: "Food stamps are paying for trans-Atlantic takeout -- with New Yorkers using taxpayer-funded benefits to ship food to relatives in Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Welfare recipients are buying groceries with their... EBT cards and packing them in giant barrels for the trip overseas."

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