Report: Massachusetts Welfare Money Transactions Tracked to Strip Clubs, Liquor Stores, Cruise Ships

WWLP reports their investigative team, I-Team, uncovered some of the places where welfare recipients are taking out EBT or food stamp money at ATMs in Massachusetts.

Meant for helping lower income families, Massachusetts welfare recipients took out more than $236-million in cash in one year from September 2014 to August 2015.

I-Team found that EBT money was taken out for cruises, a state police department, a gun club, during a Chris Brown and separate Incubus concerts and three strip clubs in the state. Also, $3,000 was taken out at Boston’s Logan International Airport

Although EBT cannot be used to buy beer, I-Team found that $852,750 was taken out at ATMs located inside of package or liquor stores.

Over $20,000 was taken out at a convenience store from an ATM with a transaction fee, even though there is a bank ATM without fees reportedly “just a few feet away.”

I-Team discovered $1,960 was taken out at an iPhone Solutions store, $5,140 was taken out Six Flags, $12,620 at Best Buy across the state and $20,140 at pawn shops, which WWLP reported are not prohibited locations according to law.

Also, tattoo parlors are blocked, but I-Team found that $240 was taken out using an EBT card at an ATM located inside of a parlor.

The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) in Massachusetts told the I-Team that they are constantly reviewing transactions and proactively blocking ATM/electronic payment systems at establishments prohibited by law.

DTA will send a report to state lawmakers by 2019 about potentially moving to a cashless system.

Last month, the state auditor’s office identified $5.7 million in fraud related to DTA for the 2015 fiscal year.

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent