America is broke. 1 of every 4 homes are underwater. 1 of every 8 Americans are on food stamps.
But Americans are a generous people. We help fellow Americans who are in need. But we deeply resent those who take advantage of our generosity by abusing government welfare, such as the food stamp program.
Every year, taxpayers spent $40 billion on those food stamps that are intended for the poor. Every one of those food stamps are paid for by you and me and the 53% of Americans who still pay income taxes.
According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, food stamp fraud totaled nearly $100 million since 2007. Abuse of the food stamp program accelerated when debit-style cards replaced paper coupons in the 1990s. Examples of fraud and abuse include:
- People hungry for cash ask the store to ring up a small food sale or a phony one. An employee agrees to hand over money, maybe $50, but takes a larger amount off the card for a nice profit, sometimes as high as 100%.
- A store west of downtown Detroit sold bags of the exotic chewy drug khat in exchange for food-stamp benefits. The cash was then wired to Somalia and other countries.
- The owner of Ann’s Market in Detroit, Wasfi Shalhout of Dearborn, Michigan, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2010 for $1.2 million of food stamp fraud. Shalhout would write dollar amounts on old lottery tickets and tell customers to present them at the counter. Customers waited in line 10-deep to trade food-stamp benefits for cash. Shalhout used the funds to pay off his mortgage, purchase property in Israel, and leased three vehicles.
- A recent example of food stamp abuse is Leroy Fick of Auburn, Michigan, who won $2 million in a state lottery game nearly a year ago but is still getting food stamps.
Below is evidence of someone abusing the food stamp program. The evidence is a grocery store receipt, dated February 8, 2011, from the Angeli’s County Market in Menominee, Michigan. My brother sent this to me in an E-mail. Please help this go viral!
I’m among the 53% of Americans who pay income taxes. I don’t buy cold water lobster or Porterhouse steak, but go to the discount Grocery Outlet.
But this individual in Michigan whose food stamp debit card account ends in 5865 bought cold water lobsters, Porterhouse steaks, and Diet Mountain Dew because someone else is paying the $141.78 bill. That someone else is you, me, and other taxpayers.
When do we say “ENOUGH! We’re sick of it and we won’t put up with it any longer”?
One good way to say “ENOUGH!” is to report fraud when you see it. Here’s how, from the U.S. Department of Human Services website:
If you know of, and wish to report fraud or abuse of the cash assistance, food stamp, Medicaid or any other benefit program provided by the Department of Human Services, call the 24-hour hotline for fraud at (202) 673-4464 in the Office of Program Review, Monitoring and Investigation (OPRMI). Anonymous calls are accepted. Callers who give their names can request confidentiality at (202) 671-4496.
UPDATE: A few hours after I published this post, Fellowship of the Minds received an e-mail from David DiCrescenzo of AmericanPatriotsPress.com, informing us that he wrote on exactly this same food stamp abuse about 10 days ago. Mr. DiCrescenzo called Angeli’s County Market and spoke tothe manager, Dan Bursik, who confirmed the purchase. Read DiCrescenzo’s blog here!
UPDATE (June 5, 2011): Sharp-eyed reader Patti found this news on Fox11 WLUK-TV, June 3, 2011:
Louis Cuff, 33, was arrested Wednesday and charged with welfare fraud for misusing hundreds of dollars of state-issued food stamps. Authorities say Cuff used a Michigan-issued food stamp card to buy and then sell food items for about 50 cents-on-the-dollar. One of the receipts from February includes six lobster tails, two porterhouse steaks and soda, totaling $141.78. The Menominee County Sheriff’s Department says anonymous tips led to a month-long joint investigation with the Michigan Department of Human Services. Lt. Greg Nast with the Menominee County Sheriff’s Department says he was told someone found the receipt near the grocery store. Authorities say Cuff admitted to selling items purchased with food stamps on three occasions. If convicted, Cuff faces up to a five year prison sentence.