The American system is full of different bills, all of which one is expected to have paid before the due date. It is impossible for a nation to succeed with the abundance of food and yet there is no cash, as the latter tends to determine most of the activities that can be undertaken by anyone. In the United States, there exists some form of structural inequity, which makes people be pushed to undertake activities that may otherwise be considered to be of a criminal nature.
Bill Clinton was the first president to overhaul the Welfare program that had been established in the United States, which happened in 1996. As a result of the change, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) was born. The occurrence of economic down times such as the Great Recession had an adverse impact on many households, and it led more people to become dependent on the SNAP system.
The USDA is the sole institution that is mandated to oversee the smooth implementation of the Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Programme. As challenges continue to be experienced in the economy of the United States, such as a drop in the value of the dollar against other currencies, so does the cost of living continues to rise to a point where many households find it impossible to support their lifestyles.
The SNAP program was therefore implemented to help those could not make ends meet sufficiently. Statically, the number of SNAP dependents has risen from 7.3 million in 1989, to more than 23.7 million families in the year 2014. The surge in the number of individuals who depend on the program is considered to have spiked so fast, due to the hard economic times that have occurred in the past.
The number of dependents on the program is quite high, and the USDA decided to enroll convenience stores in different parts of the country to help out in the process of issuing proceeds from the SNAP program to the larger community. However, trafficking cases started emerging where the retail outlet owners had devised ways of ensuring that they could be able to exchange the SNAP benefits and obtain cash, which could be used for various other purposes. In other severe cases, the SNAP merchandise has been found to be exchanged for ammunitions, and controlled drugs.
Retail Food Stamp Fraud
Trafficking that is associated with SNAP benefits is defined as Food Stamp Fraud, and the Retail Food Stamp Fraud is considered to be the worst as it can attract severe punishment from the state. The punishment ranges from huge fines to the complete termination of the license issued to convenience stores so that they can participate in the SNAP program.
Such actions frequently lead to the complete closure of most businesses, as they end up finding it difficult to survive in an environment where there is much competition from those who receive assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture SNAP program.
Various regulations have been enacted by the United States department of Agriculture in conjunction with the State, to try and curb the rampant Food Stamp Fraud that is taking place in the country, as the vice is seen by most people to be an abuse towards the use of taxpayer hard earned cash.
The regulations that stipulate the penalties that can be applied to any individual found to be involved in trafficking are outlined in the USA codes title 21 section 802. The fraud majorly involves activities such as the exchange of coupons and ATP cards for cash.
Retail stores that are suspected of participating in Food Stamp Trafficking are typically scrutinized and investigated deeply by the USDA, to come up with possible facts that may be related to the vice. In a court of law, the slightest possibility of having undertaken the food stamp trafficking is treated harshly as no much investigation is required. A jury may decide on the most suitable punishment that should be availed to the culprit.
For instance, if a convenience outlet is found to be participating in the vice for the second time, the most probable course of action would be to permanently close down the business, which can be achieved through the full denial of a permit. Optionally, the court might decide to suspend the license associated with The SNAP program for a period that does not fall below 12 years.
Rather than suspension, most convenience store outlets typically prefer to pay the damages in the form of fines, since the license suspension would mean that the business cannot operate. Section 278.6 of the United States codes also outlines penalties that can be applied to anyone who is found to be culpable Food Stamp Trafficking.
The USDA officers collect evidence in various ways, such as through visiting the premises in which fraud is suspected to be occurring, profoundly reviewing the financial reports that are associated with the convenience store, and also obtaining relevant data from the businesses EBT systems.
For disqualified outlets, the re-application process is usually scrutinized carefully, and it can only be done once the period of suspension is complete, or when the full penalty associated with the previous act of trafficking is paid. Re-application is usually done as stipulated under section 278.1, after which the Food Nutritional Service reviews the forms and makes a final decision.
FNS is usually involved in the collection of data from the business, and then USDA sends a charge letter to the store where the evidence of trafficking has been obtained. It is usually up to the retailer to decide if they prefer a suspension of their license, or pay the fines associated with the fraud. Upon receiving the letter, the response from the convenience store owner must be made to the FNS within ten days, failure to which a decision will be carried out without the consideration of the retailer’s opinion.