Texas fined for food stamp fraud; happening in Lubbock - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/1/10

Texas fined for food stamp fraud; happening in Lubbock

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Texas faces a nearly $4 million fine by the Federal Government for errors in issuing food stamps.

According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, the state is appealing the fine due to application processing errors caused by Hurricane Ike. But that's not all. The food stamp, now in debit form as the Lone Star Card, is fraudulently being traded in the community, for pennies on the dollar.

"There's always someone who thinks about how to fraud the system. The things that we've seen are people will sell their card. Like if they have 100 dollars on it, they will sell it to someone for 50 dollars and give them their personal identification number on it," says Beth Miller with Texas Health and Services.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 tracked down a welfare recipient doing exactly that who wished to remain anonymous.

"I'm a single parent, a student and working full time. And when I saw myself in a bind, after I paid my rent and car I didn't have any money, but we still needed stuff for the house. So I came up with a solution, I sold my food stamps. It's been like that every month so I can make a living."

The high risk living is a way to make ends meet for some, but for others a to buy cheap groceries.

"If you have 100 dollars you sell it to them for 50 dollars in cash, then you give them your pin number. They do their grocery shopping then they bring your card back or you can go along with them."

Beth Miller with Texas Health and Services says, "If you fraud the system, the food stamp program or Medicaid or TANF if we have all the programs here. If you fraud the system you're facing jail time, you're facing a fine and facing repaying the government."

Texas Heath and Human Resources says most places where food stamps are accepted have security cameras, which is how the investigative unit finds most people fraudulently using a lone star card.

If you know of anyone doing this you're asked to call 1-800-436-6184 and you will remain anonymous.

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