Eighty-eight individuals have been charged in connection with buying and selling food stamps and WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) benefits for cash, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia:
The 54-defendant indictment alleges that a number of defendants conspired to open purported grocery stores in Savannah, Macon, Atlanta, Garden City, Lithonia, LaGrange, Stone Mountain, Riverdale, and elsewhere for the purpose of buying WIC and Food Stamp benefits for cash. Once the purported stores were opened and approved as WIC and Food Stamp vendors, many of the defendants allegedly canvassed low-income neighborhoods and solicited WIC and Food Stamp participants to illegally exchange their benefits not for food but for cash. The defendants then allegedly bought WIC and Food Stamp benefits for cash at a fraction of the amount they received from the USDA by redeeming the benefits they had purchased. The defendants also allegedly conspired to launder over $18 million in proceeds received from their fraud upon the WIC and Food Stamp programs.
One of the problems with government welfare spending is that it generates fraud. That doesn't mean food stamps or WIC should be abolished, but it is a cautionary note to remember when some advocate the expansion of these programs, or claim that fraud prevention measures are just mean-spirited efforts to humiliate poor people.