Unfortunately, millions of federal tax dollars are wasted each year in fraud involving food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Food stamp fraud occurs when a recipient receives benefits to which they are not entitled. Fraud involving SNAP benefits can be committed in a variety of ways, and it can be committed both by the individual who is receiving the benefits, as well as the merchant who accepts the benefits.
For the person who accepts the benefits, there are a few ways to get in hot water for food stamp fraud. The first is to lie about your financial situation in order to get benefits. This could include hiding your income or lying about your income, lying about your bank accounts, lying about the number of people in your household, lying about the cost of your shelter, or lying about the custody situation of your children. In addition, if a change in one of those factors occurs (for example, if your income increased or someone moved out of your house) you are obligated to report those changes.
Another way for a SNAP recipient to commit fraud is to sell those SNAP benefits. Some recipients will sell those benefits in order to obtain cash, which is illegal. The SNAP benefits are only to be used for food for the recipient’s family.
Merchants can also commit food stamp fraud. In some cases, they will purchase food stamps from their customers. In other cases they will allow customers to purchase items, such as alcohol and cigarettes, by ringing up vegetables or milk.