Florida Welfare Agency Fires 31 Employees for Food Stamp Fraud
FLORIDA — August 22, 2018
Food stamp and Medicaid fraud already come as no surprise: welfare fraud is quite common. There are many people who consider such fraud to be a perfectly normal occupation. They constantly being caught, but then are essentially allowed to continue. I hate to admit, but in many cases such fraud is impossible without the participation of officials responsible for these areas.
Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). Spokesperson David Frady confirmed Tuesday that 31 DCF employees had been fired for fraudulently obtaining Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
“Following a standard review of every employee application for D-SNAP benefits, DCF identified applicants who submitted inconsistent information. Thirty-one employees have been terminated or are in the administrative process of being terminated,” said the DCF spokesperson. “These 31 individuals do not meet the high standards we hold more than 12,000 employees to.”
The firings come after the agency conducted an audit of more than 1,300 of its employees who applied for D-SNAP benefits in fall 2017 following Hurricane Irma.
Florida’s overall participation in the food stamp program rose by 2.5 million in one month between September 2017 and October 2017, and residents often stood in long lines at state registration sites over 45 days to fill out paperwork enabling them to receive the special D-SNAP benefits from the federal government.
The state distributed $1.2 billion in D-SNAP benefits to 7.2 million residents by the end of October 2017.
DCF employees were tasked with registering more than 1.2 million D-SNAP applications and responsible for weeding out fraudulent ones. The agency claims these employees prevented $14 million in food stamp fraud at each of the state’s 50 registration sites.
The investigation is still ongoing, and there is a possibility more employees could face termination or other consequences.
Those found guilty of fraud could face criminal charges, be disqualified from receiving food stamps, and must repay any money stolen.
But there is another crime related to food stamps that requires serious atention: food stamp trafficking. Food stamp trafficking, as it’s called, consists of retailers trading cash for government benefit dollars. Here’s how it works:
- Stores charge $100 of food stamps then give the customer $50 cash;
- Store receives $100 reimbursement from government and makes $50 profit.
This is essentially organized crime, and should be dealt with with like organized crime. It means we have to audit the entire retail system, to investigate and disqualify local stores which are involved in these schemes.