Friday, November 25, 2022

How To Report Food Stamp Fraud In Alabama

The Food Stamp Fraud Investigation Process

Oh, SNAP! Food stamp fraud

Suppose someone reports you for fraud or your SNAP-based activities trigger the Anti-Fraud Locator Using EBT Retailer Transactions system red flags. In that case, you may receive a food stamp investigation letter. In that case, you have 10 days to respond to the results of the investigation.

However, if the investigation is ongoing, a food stamp investigator may reach out to talk to you, your employer, neighbors and other people who know you. They may also conduct a sting operation. So, be careful.

It would be best to hire an attorney to represent you as long as you are under investigation. And your local legal aid office could help you with that. However, representing yourself is also a choice. But signing anything or answering questions without a legal expert to represent you is a bad idea.

You can request an Administrative Disqualification Hearing to defend yourself. Then the powers that be can determine if you are guilty of Intentional Program Violation or if you or someone else made a mistake.

You can choose to opt to not attend, admit to fraud, opt to attend and testify, or attend and not testify. But if you are found to be guilty, you will be penalized for food stamp fraud. Penalties include:

Receiving a food stamp investigation letter is not the end of the world. But it is always best to ensure you are eligible for the SNAP program and stick to the rules to avoid paying any penalties for violating the regulations.

References

Snap Trafficking And Fraud

Food stamp fraud takes place in numerous ways. Some of the most common SNAP fraud is experienced in the following circumstances. Fraud occurs when SNAP benefits are exchanged for cash, which is called SNAP trafficking. Applicants falsify their income in order to qualify for SNAP benefits or a larger monthly allowance.

Fraud also occurs when unapproved items are purchased with SNAP benefits, or when cash is provided in exchange for the card or pin. Fraud also occurs when previously disqualified retailers, who have been removed from the retail program due to past abuse and application deception, lie on their application to requalify for the program.

Repayment And Program Bans

In addition to criminal charges, a party who steals food stamps may be banned from participating in the program. In Georgia, the state bans first-time offenders for one year. There is a two-year ban for a second offense. A third violation incurs a permanent ban. The party may also be required to pay back overpayments she was not eligible to receive.

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Information Needed For The Report

You’ll need to provide as much information as possible to support your allegation. The investigating agency will need the subject’s full name and address. If you don’t know the complete address, provide the city and state. The OIG fraud complaint form asks what the subject does for work, what they did wrong, when the incident occurred, when you were made aware of the problem and what rule they violated. If you’re reporting a retailer, list the owner’s name if known.

Any supporting documents or evidence you have must be faxed to 202-690-2474 or mailed to USDA, OIG Hotline, P. O. Box 23399, Washington, D.C. 20026-3399. When submitting any documents, include a note stating that you filed a complaint online.

Food Stamp Fraud Defined

Report Nutrition Assistance Fraud By State

What is food stamp fraud? When someone intentionally provides misleading information about the size of their household or the amount of their income on an application for food stamps, they may be guilty of food stamp fraud. And while this is the most common form of food stamp fraud, there are other examples that happen more often than youd think.

SNAP fraud can also take place through:

  • SNAP trafficking
  • Providing false information about how much money you make
  • Buying something that is outside the scope of your food stamp benefits
  • Committing SNAP retailer fraud

Read Also: How To Apply For Medicaid And Food Stamps In Texas

How Is Food Stamp Fraud Tracked

While food stamp fraud does happen, it is getting harder and harder to get away with it. Tracking fraud and preventing it is a high priority for the government, and they are able to monitor fradulent activity through undercover investigations, regular audits, and retailer/buyer data. With technological advances, it is easier for the USDA to track suspicious behavior and catch those who commit food stamp fraud. But what are the penalties?

Man Charged In Food Stamp Fraud Roundup Pleads Guilty Sent Money To Family In Yemen

The owner of a Southside Birmingham grocery store, who was among those arrested last week in a state food stamp fraud roundup, pleaded guilty Monday to unrelated charges of federal food stamp and tax fraud totaling more than $1.6 million.

Sufyan Hazem Saleh, 33, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor to one count of tax fraud and one count of food stamp fraud.

Under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Saleh agrees to pay restitution of $498,470 to the IRS and $1,125,772 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the food stamp program.

Saleh also has agreed to forfeit another $375,220 to the government.

In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors are dismissing two other charges and a sentence at the low end of the federal sentencing guideline range, which will be determined at sentencing.

Saleh’s attorney, Clayton Tartt, declined comment after Monday’s change of plea hearing.

Saleh is to be sentenced Sept. 10, according to an announcement by U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, Investigations, Special Agent in Charge Karen Citizen-Wilcox, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot.

Of the nearly $1.9 million City Supermarket redeemed in EBT SNAP benefits during that period, the USDA estimated that $1,125,772 was food stamp fraud, according to the statement.

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Report Fraud In Writing Or Online

Send an anonymous letter by mail, fax or online if you would rather not talk to an investigator even anonymously. Some states have online reporting systems so go online to find out the options for filing fraud reports. The state of Washington, for example, accepts anonymous reports by mail, fax and online. In most cases, you’ll need to file the report in the state where the family members lives, or the state where they committed the fraud if different.

Food Stamp Fraud Amounts To Millions In Losses In Alabama

For Your Protection: EBT Fraud

MONTGOMERY, AL – In Alabama more than 900,000 people receive food assistance. Most of them are in need of the help, but some are taking advantage of the system, stealing hard earned tax dollars and taking money out of your pocket!

“We are determined to find those people and stop the abuse of the program,” says Department of Humane Resources Commissioner Nancy Buckner.Buckner says her office is getting a lot of complaints about food stamp fraud. There are reports of recipients using it to get a tattoo, buy liquor, or event spending their benefits in a strip club. That’s against the law in Alabama.

To see how easy it is to break that law, the 12 News Defenders went undercover with a hidden camera and an EBT card. The Defenders tried to purchase tobacco products with our food stamp card, a practice that is against the law. At some stores, clerks turned away, but not at one store where our photographer attempted to purchase a cigar.

To let us purchase a cigar with our EBT card, the clerk offered to ring it up as a food item, a way to beat the system. “Food assistance benefits are only supposed to be used to buy edible food items,” Buckner says. “It’s not supposed to be used for cigarettes and alcohol – any non-food item, even laundry detergent.” In response to what we uncovered, DHR released a statement saying:

Those caught committing fraud are disqualified from the program for a period of time, ranging from one year to life.

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Requesting A Replacement Card

Since Alabama uses the EBT card for Medicaid as well as food and cash assistance, you must call the appropriate number to cancel your lost card. For Medicaid, the toll-free number is 1-877-391-4757. For all other benefits, . This automated system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The system will ask you to enter your card number, but if you wait on the line you will hear additional options, including making a request for a replacement card.

Video of the Day

When you request a replacement card, your old card is immediately disabled and your benefits are protected from that moment. If you applied for benefits with an authorized representative and she has an EBT card with access to your account, her card will still work even though yours has been cancelled. If you need to replace her card as well, you have to cancel it separately. As of publication, Alabama does not charge a fee for replacement cards.

Social Security Phone Scams

There is a widespread telephone scam happening right now across the country involving Social Security. Callers say they are from Social Security, and may say there is a problem with your Social Security number or threaten to arrest you unless you pay a fine or fee with cash, retail gift cards, pre-paid debit cards, or wire transfers. If you received a call like this and would like to report that information, please click the button below.

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Food Stamp Fraud Is Rare

A 2018 Congressional Research Report found SNAP fraud is relatively rare. In Georgia, 2016 data, the most recent data available in 2019, showed that cases of intentional fraud made up 0.2 percent of the 1.7 million recipients of food stamps that year. A party can help reduce food stamp fraud by reporting intentional program violations.

References

Indicted For Food Stamp Fraud: ‘small Percentage’ Abuse System But Cost Alabama Millions

lost ebt card pa

Food stamp fraud suspects

Morgan County residents Ali Alsamawi, Cherokee Clem, Joshua Priest and Joyce Workman are charged with felony food stamp fraud.

Eight north Alabama residents have been indicted on felony charges in Morgan County after a Department of Human Resources investigation determined they fraudulently used food assistance cards, court records show.

Joyce Workman, 44, of Decatur, Cherokee Clem, 19, of Decatur, Joshua Edward Priest, 26, of Lacey’s Spring, and Ali Alsamawi, 40, of Decatur, each are charged with public assistance fraud, a Class C felony that’s punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Four other suspects also have been indicted, but their identities are being withheld pending arrest.

Three of the suspects, Workman, Alsamawi and Clem, are accused of having and using multiple food assistance cards, which were provided to them by the other five suspects, according to the indictment.

Alabama’s food assistance program for low-income families is called SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and is administered by DHR.

In Alabama, 383,923 households received more than $100 million in July, according to the most recent data available.

The fraud reportedly occurred in Morgan County from January 2015 to April 2016, court records show.

Spear said the department relies on the public for tips and information about individuals or businesses who may be misusing SNAP benefits.

The fraud stemmed from benefits issued in Morgan County.

Also Check: Alabama Food Stamps Eligibility

How Do You Report Food Stamp Fraud In Alabama

In Alabama, food stamp fraud is punishable under both state and federal perjury laws, which may include up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000, or both. If you know of someone who is committing fraud, it is important to report the issue to the states Department of Human Resources Fraud and Overpayments Office so that an investigation can be made. The fraud should also be reported at the local level, so that the suspects Food Stamp Office is made aware of the issue. Determine if the suspects actions can be considered food stamp fraud. Fraudulent acts include identity misrepresentation, giving false information on an application, using someone elses food stamps, giving your EBT food stamp card to other persons not in your household, or using food stamps to buy illegal items, such as drugs or firearms. Contact your local Food Stamp Office to report the fraud at the local level. All Food Stamp program offices and contact information is listed by county on the Alabama stat

How To Report Food Stamp Fraud

This article was co-authored by Jennifer Mueller, JD. Jennifer Mueller is an in-house legal expert at wikiHow. Jennifer reviews, fact-checks, and evaluates wikiHow’s legal content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. She received her JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 44,102 times.

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service operates SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which enables more than 47 million struggling Americans obtain healthy food for their families.XResearch source Fraud and waste put these benefits at risk. By reporting food stamp fraud, you can help ensure SNAP is available for those who need it most.

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Penalties Of Food Stamp Fraud

Agency Investigation

The government agency responsible for the dispensation of food stamps may conduct an investigation if they receive information or suspect that someone is committing food stamp fraud. The investigation may include visits to the home of the family who is receiving assistance. It may also involve interviews with family and neighbors who can attest to the size of the household and any income sources.

Legal Action

If the agency believes that food stamp fraud has been committed, then they have several steps available to them. The first of these is a disqualification hearing. During the hearing, the agency must prove that the individual intended to commit fraud. If they are successful at doing so, the person who wrongfully received food stamp assistance may become ineligible for such help for a specified period of time. Moreover, they may be required to repay any amounts received in excess of their rightful entitlement.

It is also possible for the agency to pursue criminal charges at the misdemeanor or felony level. The ability to file criminal charges, and the penalties enforced, vary considerably between counties and states. Nonetheless, individuals who commit food stamp fraud may find themselves facing up to one year in jail and a substantial fine. For subsequent offenses, or for food stamp fraud involving larger dollar amounts, the accused may be facing up to five years in prison, several years of probation or an even bigger fine.

Avoiding Legal Action

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