Dead people doled out $2.6 billion worth of food stamps

Dead people doled out $2.6 billion worth of food stamps
Image: Sherry V Smith/Shutterstock

Dead retailers redeemed more than $2 billion worth of food stamps, according to a new audit.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general reviewed billions of transactions through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. It found that thousands of stores authorized to accept food stamps were using the Social Security numbers of deceased persons.

An audit released Thursday found instances of potential fraud where the Food and Nutrition Service issued food stamps through stores that claimed to be owned by children or the dead.

“We found that 3,394 authorized SNAP retailers (retailers) used Social Security Numbers (SSN) that matched SSNs of deceased people,” the inspector general said. “Additionally, 193 retailers listed owners who were not at least 18 years of age. While FNS did have some controls to edit or verify SNAP retail owner information, these controls were not adequate to ensure owner information accuracy.”

Between October 2013 and June 2015, the inspector general identified 3,394 stores owned by 1,819 people who were using SSNs listed on the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File.

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