USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon Tuesday announced the department is working toward limiting SNAP fraud through social media monitoring and partnerships with state programs.
During the second quarter 2013, USDA imposed sanctions on 336 stores found violating program rules and disqualified permanently 536 stores for illegally exchanging SNAP benefits for cash or falsifying an application.
"USDA continues to take an aggressive stance on fraud to preserve the integrity of the nation's largest nutrition safety net," said Concannon, under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. "We have realigned our retailer operations function to further our national compliance efforts, and are working more closely with our state partners to hold bad actors accountable and fight fraudulent activity whenever and wherever it takes place."
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service is also working with states to strengthen their ability to monitor social media web sites for attempts by individuals to buy or sell SNAP benefits online.
USDA is providing information to state investigators on how to use free publically available tools to search for posts attempting to buy or sell SNAP benefits. By using such tools, states will be alerted via e-mail of potentially illegal activities so that they may be further investigated and appropriate actions taken.
FNS recently announced also federal-state partnerships with Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Ohio to target recipient fraud as part of its SNAP Stewardship Solutions Project. Under the partnership, FNS monitors retailer fraud through a data-sharing agreement with its state partners.