The cost of living continues to rise in the Bronx and various other parts of New York. With the burden that many faces trying to feed their family and put a roof over their head, food stamp fraud is on the rise. You can be charged with fraud if you allow someone else to use your food stamps, are a retailer that is falsifying documents to gain from the SNAP Program, or if you are selling your food stamps in exchange for cash.
According to the 7 U.S.C. 2024, anyone who is deceptive with food stamps in amounts under $100 can be charged with a misdemeanor. Anyone who is deceptive with amounts over $100 can be charged with a felony. The United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services uses many different resources to catch fraud. If you have received notification of pending charges against you, then you need legal help. You must understand the laws and the severity of the situation, which is the reason why you need a strong legal defense team working hard for you.
How Food Stamp Fraud Occurs?
There are currently more than 45 million SNAP recipients across the country. Of this amount, only one percent is suspected of fraud annually. There are more deceptions in governmental programs like Medicare and Medicaid than in food stamps. Fraud in this system is very low, but it does happen. Thanks to internal audits, and tips for consumers, there are many checks and balances that are able to detect scams. The average benefits are only a mere $126.39. It is easy to see that there is a much bigger gain from retail establishments than individuals.
As legal professionals, we know how these cases typically go. The Government wants their money back. If a person is in jail they cannot retrieve their funds. One of our biggest defenses is to keep you out of jail and working to repay the debt you owe. When the amount is significant, our hands may be tied. Thankfully, the main goal is to recoup the money lost from the program. We use this as a bargaining tool with the prosecutor, among other things. Making restitution is expected.
Understanding Recipient Food Stamp Fraud?
Food stamp fraud costs the government millions of dollars each year. One of the most common ways that fraud is committed when a person receives stamps and benefits that they are not entitled to. This type of fraud can be divided into two sections. If a SNAP applicant gives erroneous information on their application, in an effort to receive benefits, then they have committed fraud. Second, the SNAP applicant may not include assets, resources, income or members of their household on their application. This can be for the purpose of gaining benefits or it can be by accident.
The law requires you to notify your caseworker of any changes in your household within 10 days. Unfortunately, many people are busy and forget to make that required call. Our goal is to prove to the court that this deception was not intentional, rather, it was done by accident. We must show that you were not trying to defraud the government. The individual circumstances surrounding the case are helpful in formulating the appropriate defense.
What Is Food Stamp Trafficking?
When times are tough, people often sell their food stamp benefits in exchange for cash. They can also trade them for other merchandise. This is considered food stamp trafficking, and it is illegal.
When Retailers Commit Food Stamp Fraud
Dealing with retailer food stamp fraud is a bit more complex. Take for instance a grocery store that uses the SNAP programs and fails to abide by the rules and restrictions the government sets forth. They can be disqualified from participating in the program. This can cause a significant loss in revenue as many people depend on this program to feed their families. To be reinstated, they would have to lie on a new application. Though they may be reestablished and can take the EBT cards, it will be done through deceitful methods. If and when they are caught, they can be charged with fraud.
Why You Need Legal Help?
When charged with this type of crime, it is easy to see that things can be serious. A food stamp fraud attorney will look at the application and see what the discrepancies are that have caused concern. You will need to work hand-in-hand with a lawyer until this criminal matter can be resolved.
In many cases, people are innocent. You may be charged with something that you did not do. You have a right to defend yourself. You need a lawyer that can help make your problems go away. General law firms do not specialize in such cases. You must have a food stamp lawyer that is well-versed in this area of the law. It can mean all the difference in the world. If you or your loved one has been charged with food stamp fraud, call our offices today for a consultation. Spodek Law Group has more than 50 years’ experience, and we can help you.