USDA's Struggle to Police Merchants Engaging in Food Stamp Fraud
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), in a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon, asked USDA to respond to new findings by Scripps Howard News Service that found pervasive weaknesses in USDA’s process for disqualifying and reauthorizing merchants to accept food stamp benefits. The new revelations have led to an expansion of a previous February 6, 2012, request Issa made to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about fraud within USDA’s food stamp program.
record numbers of Americans using food stamps, with an annual price tag
of $75.3 billion, anything short of rigorous anti-fraud measures will be
very costly to taxpayers,” wrote Issa in the letter to Concannon.
“According to Scripps, a startling number of barred retailers ‘disobey
the permanent prohibitions and continue to shortchange complicit
customers and unwitting taxpayers.’ In fact, some retailers have been
busted repeatedly – Scripps identified at least 137 merchants that have
been disqualified more than once.”