OIG uncovers SNAP trafficking scheme

Selling SNAP benefits for cash is illegal. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps people buy the food they need for good health. SNAP food benefits are put on to the Lone Star Card and can be used just like a credit card at any store that accepts SNAP. Misusing the benefit, whether as a client or a retailer, can have serious consequences. It can result in disqualification from the SNAP program, financial penalties and being charged with a felony.

During the third quarter, investigators with the OIG’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Trafficking completed cases on 34 recipients in Cameron County involved in a scheme that resulted in $467,991 in fraud. Investigators say the recipients were active participants in a scheme with a retailer, swiping their SNAP benefits cards at a register without making a purchase and later receiving a percentage of the “sale” in cash. Three criminal cases were submitted to the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

The OIG’s work includes efforts to prevent fraud, waste and abuse before it can happen. Part of that prevention strategy is to educate benefits recipients and vendors on proper SNAP use. To that end, the OIG has produced new guides for SNAP clients and retailers. The new guides listed below outline the proper use of SNAP and provide examples of misuse.

Guide for retailers     Guide for clients