Federal government crackdown on food stamp fraud

    8:28 PM, Aug 9, 2012   |    comments
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    Little Rock (KTHV) -- The federal government makes an announcement Thursday cracking down on food stamp fraud.

    Officials say a good part of the new guidelines focus on retailers.

    "Under these new proposals USDA would have the ability to permanently disqualify a retailer who participates in trafficking and to access a monetary penalty on that retailer," says the Department of Agriculture secretary Kevin Concannon.

    Concannon says under former guidelines, the federal government had to choose whether to impose monetary penalties or disqualify a grocer.  He says they could not do both.

    Concannon describes the former penalties as a 'slap on the wrist."

    It is a part of President Barack Obama's ongoing "Campaign to Cut Waste." 




    A southwest Little Rock grocer says he has already cracked down on customers attempting to misuse food stamps.

    "It's helped going from the paper food stamps to the EBT card food stamps," said Philip Bonner, owner of Bonner's Grocery in southwest Little Rock.

    Bonner says people attempt to sell their food stamps in his store.  He said they often sell them for 50 cents on the dollar.

    "We try to do everything we can to prevent that from happening," says Bonner.

    Bonner says his electronic scanner system helps to prevent food stamp customers from buying non-food items.  He says an estimated 40 percent of his customers use food stamps.

    More than 680,000 Arkansans receive some sort of assistance from the Department of Human Services.

    Each year, DHS says it pays out more than $700 million to Arkansans in benefits.

    You can follow Daniel on Twitter @dan_wilkerson.

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