Cost of Food Stamp Fraud More Than Doubles In Three Years

April 1, 2013 - 6:06 PM

In 2012, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said that food stamp fraud totals $750 million each year - a number that more than doubles the cost of trafficking reported in a 2006- 2008 USDA study.

Kevin Concannon, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, told the Huffington Post last year that food stamp fraud totals around $750 million each year.

The $750 million number is more than double the amount in total dollars of fraud detected annually in a 2006-2008 study on trafficking - a type of fraud that involves selling Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to food retailers for cents on the dollar.

"This is $750 million that isn't being used to provide food to individuals and families and that issue isn't lost on us. We want to maintain the confidence of American taxpayers because everyone is challenged in this economy - the payers as well as the folks who are benefiting from the program," Concannon said.

CNSNews.com reached out to the USDA to verify this number. A spokesperson stated via email, "In 2011, program costs totaled $75.7 billion. Using the most recent data on trafficking available, USDA estimated that trafficking would be 1 percent of $75 billion, or approximately $750 million."

This number is $420 million more per year than a report released in March of 2011 that wrote on fraud within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from 2006-2008.

"Trafficking diverted an estimated $330 million annually from SNAP benefits – or about one cent of each SNAP dollar – between 2006 and 2008. About 8.2 percent of all stores trafficked," states the Extent of Trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (2006-2008).

That's an increase from $330 million annually in 2008 to $750 million in 2011. The "USDA doesn't tolerate fraud which is why we are aggressively strengthening our anti-fraud policies and tactics," said the USDA, noting the rate of fraud is at 1 percent of total expenditures.

CNSNews.com previously reported that in January 2009 there were 31,939,110 Americans receiving food stamps.  As of November 2012, there were 47,692,896 Americans enrolled, an increase of 49.3 percent.