Report: Welfare recipients using food stamps to buy food for overseas relatives

It has been discovered that New York welfare recipients are using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to purchase groceries and then ship them in giant barrels for relatives in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Haiti, according to an exclusive report by the New York Post.

Experts say that the practice is quite common and has been performed for quite some time now. It is also rather ubiquitous because those taking part in the scam are using hundreds of 45-gallon cardboard and plastic barrels that line the walls of a significant number of supermarkets in the Caribbean regions of New York. These cost about $40 and are usually filled with as little as $500 to as much as $2,000 worth of canned milk, rice, pasta and much more.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service say the food stamps program is to help American families in need, but noted that states should intervene if there is evidence showing people are shipping food abroad.

There are more than 47.5 million recipients (as of Apr. 2013) and is costing the taxpayer roughly $6.2 billion every month to sustain it, according to SNAP data. Meanwhile, the U.S. government spent more than $500 million in foreign aid to the Caribbean in the last fiscal year.

One official for the Cato Institute argues that this is just another example of welfare abuse. “I don’t want food-stamp police to see what people do with their rice and beans, but it’s wrong,” said Michael Tanner in an interview with the news outlet. “The purpose of this program is to help Americans who don’t have enough to eat. This is not intended as a form of foreign aid.”

This isn’t the first time that a scam regarding food stamps has been reported.

In April, it was discovered that a pair of convenience store owners in the state of Florida purchased EBT cards at a low price from customers and then used those cards to stock their own shelves. The Department of Agriculture found that more than 1,400 stores were involved in the cash for food stamp cards last year.

Two months later, an owner of four dollar stores in New Jersey was arrested for allowing his customers to acquire electronics with their food stamps. The purchases totaled about $5.2 million and occurred for nearly three years.

Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions issued an open letter that calls for the end of the food stamp “madness.” His letter also questions the relationship with Mexican consulates to encourage migrant workers, non-citizen immigrants and foreign nationals to apply for food stamps and other welfare benefits provided by the USDA.

Since President Obama entered office, the federal government has been running advertising campaigns encouraging residents to apply for food stamp benefits, while local and state governments could even receive bonuses from the federal government for swiftly processing applications.

Many are upset that the U.S. is funding a program that helps those who are able to feed themselves and at a time when the government is nearly $17 trillion in debt. In addition, it is even offering food stamps to those who don’t qualify and instead are filed under the “broad-based” eligibility criteria.

Is it time to end food stamps in America?

Like this article? Get ECN delivered to your inbox daily. Subscribe here.

Comments

  1. While I believe there is need for great reform in government aid programs, I am a single mother, looking for fulltime wotk, who works parttime in a grocery store in a lower income neighborhood, and I receive no child support from my abusive ex husband, who is also the father of both my children. I know there needs to be reform but there are good people like me and my children who really need it. THANKS.

  2. If you create a socialist welfare system to enable the poor, then the poor will find a way to exploit it. This is nothing new nor should it surprise anyone on Capital Hill. Then again, many of the men and women on Capital Hill are shielded from the actual plight of the poor in America.

    I was married to a recent emigre from Russia, who explained to me the nuances of the public support system in Russia. Everyone there did there best to utilize what the system gave them, and if there was a way to barter, exchange, or profit from it, they would.

    If poor people here in the USA are utilizing their food stamp benefits to send food elsewhere then so be it. There isn’t a damn thing that can be done about it, and the number of people doing this is so low as to not be news worthy–leave them alone.

    I live in the beautiful STATE of Hawaii. I capitalized STATE because many Americans in the US mainland seem to forget it IS a STATE. I get really pissed off when I see news articles or citizens complaining that “Obama went on an expensive holiday in Hawaii”. He was BORN in this STATE and he is only returning HOME as any President should be allowed to do WITHOUT criticism. It’s NOT a foreign country.

    Now that I got that out of my system, I want to inform you what goes on here with people and food stamps.

    There are two things that happen on a very large scale.
    1. Filipino people on food stamps also send food to their native country. They do this openly without remorse. And they aren’t sending it necessarily to their relatives. They are, but not because they are hungry. They send it so it can be RESOLD.

    2. Believe it or not, SPAM (yes, the canned meat) is a valuable commodity here! So if a homeless person, drug addict, alcoholic with no money, but who has food stamp benefits needs money, they find one of several people (usually Filipino, but some Chinese as well) hanging out near downtown Honolulu. These enterprising people will drive the money hungry person to a major supermarket that has Spam on sale, and they have them buy up whatever amount they wish.
    They then will PAY THE PERSON 50% in cash value what they bought. So if they buy $300 worth of Spam, they get #150 in cold hard cash.

    This is what happens when you enable the poor. They do need food stamps, but there is no way possible to keep them from cheating the system.

Leave a Comment