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Food stamps are an excellent program that help the poor stretch their dollars further. There have been many successful stories of people who have been able to get off food stamps and be a productive member in society, giving back to the system that helped them with whatever they needed. The average food stamp cardholder can get anywhere from $16 to $190 from the government. Someone who has a family has the potential to get even more in food stamps, depending on their situation.
What are the Requirements for Getting Food Stamps?
Food stamp recipients must meet an income requirement. Attempting to get around the income requirement by hiding money can be considered illegal.
While food stamps are supposed to help the poor, and in many cases do help those who are poor get on a track to better life, there are those who obtain food stamps who do not need the program, or who abuse the program to their benefits. There are several different ways someone can abuse the program, and each way that someone abuses the program has slightly different consequences.
It’s not just the poor who abuse the program, businesses have been guilty of committing food stamp fraud as well. Whether their version of the fraud is letting someone buy things they shouldn’t on food stamps, or accepting a food stamp payment for a utility, this is a crime too.
Food Stamp Crimes: Recipients
There are many different crimes that recipients of food stamps can be convicted of if they misuse or mishandle their food stamps.
There are different consequences for each crime and the severity and offense of the crime. Sometimes, people aren’t aware it’s against the law to sell and trade their food stamps; however not being aware of the law doesn’t mean that it’s okay. There are several things that people can’t do if they have a food stamp card:
* Buy things on their food stamp card for other people in exchange for goods, services, or other momentary value. Monetary value includes getting cards in exchange, even if it’s a food card like Subway. While many people think they might just be at risk of losing their food stamps, the truth is that there are even more charges that one can face. In addition to being charged with a crime, someone might not be allowed to ever obtain benefits again, even if they need them.
* Obtain food stamp value for a trade. This means that even if you’re the one getting the card, you can still get in trouble for it. Do not accept any food stamps in return for payment for anything. This can be called “food stamp trafficking”, and you and the person who you are helping out can both get into legal trouble because of this.
You can read more here about potential different charges that you can face. Make sure to take care to use your food stamp card carefully. If you are convicted of food stamp fraud, it will likely make it so that you cannot get food stamps from any state.
Different Crimes for Businesses
There are many food stamp crimes that businesses can face. One crime that businesses can be guilty of is buying food stamps for cash. This means that businesses will “buy” food stamps for a certain percentage on the dollar, which varies per business. Doing this is a crime that can cause a business to loose its license and be prosecuted.
Businesses can also be guilty of a crime if:
* They allow people to trade food stamps for items (soap, cigarettes, beer)
* They allow someone to sell them food stamps and give that person cash or a gift card
* They accept food stamps for hot food as disallowed by the state
Recent Food Stamp Crimes
Now that you know what is a crime and what isn’t, here are some recent crimes that have happened:
– A crime in which 16 people had charges pressed against them. A big shop had been buying food stamp money. They had been giving people .80 cents cash for $1.00 of food stamps. While this could be seen as a “good deal” for both parties, it is against the law and carries a hefty fine and a possible prison sentence. You can read more about the case and information here.
– A crime in which a store owner paid recipients 50% of what the stamps were worth in cash. The storeowener who committed a crime had a bond set at two million dollars. You can read more about the story here.
Most of the people who make the news about food stamp fraud are businesses owners, not recipients of food stamps. However, that doesn’t mean that people who are recipients can’t get arrested for food stamp fraud.
How often is food stamp fraud prosecuted?
It depends on the state, but most people think that the answer is ‘not enough.’ Food stamp fraud is costly for everyone involved. It gives those who are using their food stamps legitimately a bad name, and those who do commit food stamp crime can have their lives ruined. If someone has been arrested for committing fraud, they should see a lawyer experienced in the issue.
There are more different types of fraud than just food stamp fraud. There are many different government programs, such as social security, social security disability, and other programs. Each program has its own definition for what constitutes fraud.
If you receive food stamps, and are facing a food stamp fraud charge, you are at risk of loosing not only your food stamps, but facing criminal or civil charges as well. Call a lawyer right away. Many have payment plans and will be able to help represent you for free.
All programs have potential for fraud, and all fraud can face hefty criminal charges. If you are facing food stamp fraud charges, you should call a lawyer as soon as possible. Many lawyers have payment plans and are very affordable. Get someone to work for you.
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