• Federal Investigation Arrests 14 In $2 MILLION Food Stamp Scheme

    A multi-agency federal investigation in Ohio brought down a $2 million food stamp fraud scheme Wednesday.

    The crackdown was part of an 18-month investigation into welfare fraud in the state. Federal, state and local officials raided businesses and homes suspected of being involved. The raids occurred in the counties of Butler and Hamilton. According to Dayton Daily News, 14 people were arrested. The Southern District of Ohio Task Force led the investigation.

    “This task force, along with an additional 80 electronic and financial networks across the United States, have been established to prevent, detect and investigate various forms of criminal activity that have large community impact,” U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Mark Porter said according to WCPO.

    The two businesses cited in the arrest were U.S. Beef Cincinnati and Butcher Shop Food Distributors. People with connections to the two businesses have been accused of illegally using food stamps since 2011.

    The taskforce is made up of 60 federal, state and local agencies. It uses electronic and financial records in its investigations. Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, a government-issued debit card, replaced printed food stamps as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Agent Harold Torrens, of the Ohio Investigative Unit, noted these welfare benefits were traded in for cash and drugs.

    “We’ve had food stamp fraud happening with meat truck drivers that have been exchanging food stamp SNAP benefits for cash, drugs,” Torrens said, according to Dayton Daily News. “This investigation has netted over approximately $2 million worth of fraud over the last 18 months.”

    SNAP is the nation’s largest food-assistance program. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the program has increased from 17 million participants in 2000 to nearly 47 million in 2014. The size alone has prompted concern among many lawmakers of the potential for abuse.

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