Food stamp abuse in Miss. costs state millions

(WMC-TV) - Food stamp abuse is a subject that has many taxpayers fed up. Well, there is now evidence of food stamp abuse in Mississippi. And this problem is costing the state millions of dollars.

Action news 5 has discovered thousands of families have been kicked out of the program due to fraud. Over 1,700 people have been accused of taking or misusing more than $2.7 million in federal benefits.

The money came from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. At this time, nearly 25 percent of the people in Miss. are enrolled in the SNAP program.

A major issue is when people do not report their income when applying for the benefits.

David Noble, Operations Director for the Department of Human Services, also says some of that fraud happens when benefit cards are sold for cash and then reported lost or stolen.

Noble says in a lot of cases the seller then turns around and requests a replacement for their stolen card.

During the last budget year the state has been tracking those requesting a replacement card to pin down potential fraud.

And during that time 263 households reported missing cards five or more times. In one case, a cardholder requested a replacement card a whopping 17 times.

"We're always having to be creative ourselves as investigators to figure out what's going on to make sure that we maintain the integrity of the snap program," Noble said.

Noble says even though the statistics seem high, fraud has actually decreased over the last few years.

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