FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2012
Media Contact: Trey Williams
SNAP Fraud Scam Discovered, DCFS Asks Businesses to Be Aware
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) today asks businesses and business owners to be on alert for a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) scam in which an individual claiming to represent DCFS asks to update Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) machines.
DCFS is conducting a joint investigation with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) into a recent incident in which an individual claimed to be conducting official state business related to the Food Stamp Program, presented a phony identification tag and a listing of other businesses with signatures. The scammer claimed to be making upgrades to the EBT card reader.
According to DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson, the agency has identified the owner of the card who denied any involvement in the scam.
"After such a brazen attempt to commit fraud, we urge businesses to be vigilant, cautious and on alert to prevent any additional attempts by a scammer to use a public benefits program to attempt to steal money from unsuspecting businesses," said Johnson. "Anyone who suspects fraud or abuse is urged to report it by calling 1-888-LAHelp-U."
Johnson added that DCFS officials rarely visit businesses in person and do not service EBT machines in any way. On occasion, it is necessary for DCFS to conduct testing of an EBT system at a retailer. In these cases, advance notice always is given to the business owner prior to the visit, and proper identification is presented.
"Our contractor is responsible for the EBT machines and our federal partners handle the retailer application process for becoming eligible to accept SNAP benefits; DCFS primarily deals with the recipient application process not the physical equipment used in the program, so our agency seldom has reason to make in-person updates or otherwise service EBT machines," said Johnson.
Johnson added that DCFS officials also occasionally make in-person visits in the course of an investigation into fraud or abuse. Johnson said that in such cases, a DCFS employee always will present an official photo identification card and investigator's badge.
If a person claiming to be a DCFS official visits a business unannounced and raises suspicions, Johnson urges businesses to contact the agency by calling 1-888-LAHelp-U (1-888-524-3578) and using option 7 to report the suspicious incident.