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Recipient Food Stamp Trafficking

Understanding SNAP Benefit Trafficking and Its Consequences

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is designed to alleviate the financial burden of needy households in having food.

The federal and state agencies that administer SNAP are constantly on the lookout for those who abuse the program. One such abuse is food stamp, or SNAP benefit, trafficking. Those who engage in it, whether retailers or recipients, divert dollars intended to help needy families have nutrition toward their own profits or things for which SNAP benefits are not meant.

If you are accused of trafficking in food stamps, or snap benefits, you’re subject to sanctions ranging from the administrative to the criminal. That means not only being declared ineligible, but the potential of jail time and agencies reaching into your property or other money to satisfy debts.

What is Trafficking By a Food Stamp Recipient?

As a recipient, you engage in trafficking by selling your EBT benefits to someone else. Often, trafficking occurs when a retailer buys your benefits and then uses them to buy inventory for resell. With the cash, you buy items, such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco or other nonfood items, that you could not buy with the EBT card.

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

How does the federal or your state find out if you’re trafficking? Before EBT cards, food stamp recipients received coupons, or “stamps.” Paper coupons made it more challenging to track your purchases or catch phony records of purchases.

EBT cards work like debit or ATM cards. As you use it, the balance you have each month for eligible food purchases decrease. Since the EBT card is the method for paying for food with snap funds, unscrupulous types have a much more difficult time with counterfeit schemes.

More importantly, the EBT cards allow the federal or state agencies to track and record your use habits. Patterns discovered by or analyzed by computers may signal potential sale or otherwise misuse of the benefits. These alerts may trigger investigations and enforcement actions.


Criminal Penalties

Trafficking is a crime that carries the prospect of imprisonment and fines. The levels depend on how much money is involved in the trafficking. If you’ve sold less than $100 dollars in benefits, you can be convicted of a misdemeanor and face up to one year and a $1,000 fine.

When the trafficking involves at least $100 but less than $5,000, it becomes a felony with a fine up to $10,000. You can get up to five years in prison on a first offense. For subsequent convictions in this value range, the minimum prison term is six months and the maximum is five years.

If you’re found guilty of trafficking more than $5,000 in benefits, the fine can reach $250,000 and your prison term could last up to 20 years.


Federal law also bars you from receiving snap benefits due to trafficking. This conduct is considered an “Intentional Program Violation (IPV).” Other IPVs may arise from providing false or misleading information on your application, such as when you falsify your identity to get multiple sets of identity or lie about your income, assets or members of your household.

A first IPV disqualifies you from snap benefits for twelve months. On a second IPV, you’re barred for 24 months. After a third IPV, you are permanently disqualified from receiving snap benefits. Remember, this is not the number of trafficking incidents. Any IPV is counted in determining your period of disqualification. If you have two IPVs for other reasons, just one instance of trafficking can bar you forever from snap benefits.

Also, if you’ve been convicted of trafficking and the value is at least $500, you are permanently disqualified. This is so even if it’s your first offense.

Generally, you are entitled to a hearing before the agency disqualifies you on the basis of an IPV. The agency must notify you in writing at least 30 days prior to the date that the disqualification hearing is scheduled. Within 90 days after notification to the household that the hearing has been scheduled, the agency must conduct it and make a decision. Contact one of our recipient trafficking attorneys who can help you prepare for the hearing and make sure your rights to a fair hearing are protected.

Civil Recovery

You will also owe the federal government for amounts you received due to trafficking. The state agency that administers your SNAP benefits undertakes efforts to collect these amounts from you. A civil claim for trafficking can be based on your admission to the activity or upon documentation and other evidence that you engaged in trafficking.

The collection starts with an initial written demand to you. Among other things, it will declare the amount you allegedly trafficked, the time period in which it allegedly occurred and basis for the claim that you engaged in trafficking. You have ninety (90) days from receiving the letter to request a fair hearing. If you get such a notice, one of our recipient trafficking lawyers can discuss the agency’s claim with you and determine how you can fight it or perhaps work out a settlement or compromise with the agency.

Should the claim go uncontested or be determined as valid, your state agency must take the greater of $20 or 20 percent of your monthly benefits per month. You can pay in installments or in a lump sum, including from your EBT card. Other collection methods include garnishment of your wages, offsets or deductions from your state tax refund or lottery winnings, or intercept of any unemployment benefits upon getting a court order to do so. The state agency may request a court order that you perform public service, with the value of it being applied to the claim against you.

If you find yourself accused of abusing the snap program by trafficking, one of our recipient trafficking attorneys are available to help you avoid or reduce the administrative, civil or even criminal consequences.

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