The Advocate reports that the Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s office will cancel food stamp benefits for anyone who participated in a fraud and shopping spree catalyzed by an EBT malfunction.
More than 12,000 people were sent an insufficient funds notice when the problem with the EBT cards was fixed on Oct. 12; those who transgressed may lose their EBT cards for a year.
Suzy Sonnier, the secretary of state at the Department of Children and Family Services, released a statement saying: “We must protect the program for those who receive and use their benefits appropriately according to the law. We are looking at each case individually, addressing those recipients who are suspected of misrepresenting their eligibility for benefits or defrauding the system.”
Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd said, “It was worse than any Black Friday.”
Stores were emptied of their merchandise. Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said Walmart decided to let the crowds go ahead and buy rather than cut them off. Once the system was fixed, it became clear how much fraud there was; one woman had an EBT card with a balance of 49 cents but still had $700 worth of goods in her shopping cart.
On October 11-12, at least 17 states experienced problems with their EBT card systems. In Springhill and Mansfield, Louisiana, cards indicated they had no spending limits, so EBT holders went wild with purchases.
The stores that were cheated are bound to come up with the cash they lost, which may prompt them to join local prosecutors to bring charges against the fraudsters.
The Advocate reported that violators will receive a letter stating their EBT cards have been canceled along with information as to how to appeal their cases. They may lose their EBT cards forever.