In a February 13 article, The Pew Charitable Trusts reported on the sophisticated electronic theft scam that left many Massachusetts residents without critical Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Betsy Gwin of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is quoted. An excerpt from the article is below.
Last September, when Baltimore resident Tzu Yang went grocery shopping for his intellectually disabled daughter with a food benefits card that he thought was worth about $300, he discovered at the checkout that the card had no value left. The same thing happened in October, November and December.
The benefits meant for Hawlie Yang, age 37 but with the mental capacity of a 5-year-old, were being systematically stolen.
Tzu Yang contacted local authorities but never got the money back. The stolen electronic benefits were used locally and as far away as New York, he discovered. But neither he nor police could find out who filched them, and the state agencies involved provided no help or reimbursement.
They told him there’s no returning of benefits stolen from electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, cards, Yang, a retired businessman, said in a phone interview.
Yang is not alone. All over the country, state agencies and people who receive aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, are reporting the theft of millions of dollars in benefits. And unlike regular credit or debit cards where refunds are often available when thieves poach funds, EBT cards don’t have those protections. That leaves many victims with no recourse.