Food stamp benefits are one of the many programs available for lower-income families struggling to make ends meet. Families who are self-sufficient or would rather use the balance to supplement their income in other ways often trade or sell the benefits to other people who want to use the card to buy food.
In other instances, some people are not truthful when filling out the application. While some do intend to deceive authorities for personal gain, others are truly desperate. This may be due to other expenses in their budget rising above their means or substance abuse.
CBS reports that in 2016 alone, food stamp fraud cost Florida taxpayers $12 million. More than 3 million people in the state rely on food stamp and every year, Florida receives up to 24,000 reports of fraud. In spite of this, people who are investigated and caught most often do not face charges.
So, what does happen to many of these cases? Most people get referred to diversion programs. For those who do not face official charges, their lives may be affected in other ways. One woman reported to CBS that she lost her job, no longer had a car and was about to get evicted from her home. She was caught using someone else’s food stamps, which she said she did out of desperation.
In 2018, AJC reported on a year-long investigation in Jacksonville that led to the implication of several businesses and nearly 200 people. Of these people, 115 faced allegations related to trading EBT/SNAP benefits in exchange for cash at half price. Authorities believe the money was injected into both the gun trade and illegal drug trade.