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USDA Announces Results in Ongoing Effort to Improve SNAP Integrity

New Procedures Help States Identify SNAP Fraud through Social Media

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2013 – USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced the department is making significant progress towards achieving greater integrity in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  In efforts to identify and reduce fraud, USDA took the following actions through the second quarter fiscal year 2013:

  •     Imposed sanctions, through fines or temporary disqualifications, on 336 stores found violating program rules; and
  •     Disqualified permanently 536 stores for trafficking SNAP benefits (i.e. illegally exchanging SNAP benefits for cash) or falsifying an application.

“USDA continues to take an aggressive stance on fraud to preserve the integrity of the nation’s largest nutrition safety net,” said Concannon, under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services.  “We have realigned our retailer operations function to further our national compliance efforts, and are working more closely with our state partners to hold bad actors accountable and fight fraudulent activity whenever and wherever it takes place.”

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service  is also working with states to strengthen their ability to monitor social media web sites for attempts by individuals to buy or sell SNAP benefits online.  USDA is providing information to state investigators on how to use free publically available tools to search for posts attempting to buy or sell SNAP benefits.  By using such tools, states will be alerted via e-mail of potentially illegal activities so that they may be further investigated and appropriate actions taken.

Last month, FNS announced federal-state partnerships with Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Ohio to target recipient fraud as part of its SNAP Stewardship Solutions Project. Under the partnership, FNS utilizes its experience in monitoring retailer fraud through an unprecedented data-sharing agreement with its state partners to improve recipient fraud detection capabilities in order to help states better focus their resources to identify and promptly investigate suspicious activity. 

SNAP – the nation's first line of defense against hunger – helps put food on the table for millions of low income families and individuals every month. The largest of USDA's 15 nutrition assistance programs, it has never been more critical to the fight against hunger. SNAP is a vital supplement to the monthly food budget of more than 47 million low-income individuals. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children, nine percent are over 60 and more than 40 percent of recipients live in households with earnings.

Today’s announcements are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing Campaign to Cut Waste designed to fight fraud, abuse and misuse in federal programs. For more information about USDA efforts to combat fraud, visit the Stop SNAP fraud website at www.fns.usda.gov/program-integrity.

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