It’s a welfare fraud scheme costing U.S. taxpayers $750 million a year. People are illegally selling their electronic food stamp cards on Craigslist and other social media sites for cash.
CBS13 found two people here in Sacramento, both with the same idea, using Craigslist as free advertising to blatantly and illegally sell their state benefits.
Our hidden cameras were rolling as a woman, who we’ll call Lorie, told our undercover producer about her brilliant idea to game the system for a quick buck.
“Everyone said I was crazy, but I thought they’d say, ‘that’s freaking brilliant man,’ ” she said.
Another man, who we’ll call Joe, rolled up on a skateboard. He showed us his CalFresh card he illegally put up for sale on Craigslist.
“See, right now it still has $116 on it,” he told our undercover producer.
Rather than use that money for food like he’s supposed to, Joe offered to sell us the card for just $60 cash.
“I just need the money right now,” said Joe. “I moved back in with my mom.”
Obviously the food stamps program was never conceived so moochers and (presumably) unemployed skateboarders could sell their benefits online in exchange for quick cash. It’s bad enough that EBT card recipients are already using their taxpayer subsidies to purchase alcohol and lap dances. But this might be a new low. Now, apparently, with the click of a mouse, recipients can instantly turn welfare into cash. The federal government, meanwhile, seems utterly incapable of monitoring these fraudsters and hucksters, even though what they’re doing is patently illegal:
The annual cost of food stamp fraud, nationwide, is three-quarters of a billion dollars. People attempting to buy or sell food stamps are breaking the law.
“It’s an issue that we’re aware of. It’s an issue we’re serious about and that we’re monitoring,” said Weston.
The department has started using custom software to scour social media daily — Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter — in search of illegal ads like the ones Lorie and Joe put up.
“We need to leverage technology ourselves in order to keep ahead of these people,” said Weston.
There will always be parasites who game the system in order to subsidize their own care-free lifestyles. But this is truly a shame. It undermines the program’s true purpose: to feed those who earnestly cannot feed themselves.
Lord knows what these recipients’ are doing with all that cash. But I’ll tell you one thing: they’re not spending it all on food.