(NaturalNews) The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP - better known as food stamps - is the fastest growing federal entitlement program, and one of the most abused.
That's according to Cato Institute scholar Michael Tanner, who just released an exhaustive report studying the issue [http://object.cato.org]. Since 2000, the program has exploded - it has grown from 17 million Americans to more than 48 million, due largely to the Obama administration's relaxing of qualification standards - so much so that a sizable percentage of those now receiving food stamps are not "poor," by the government's own definition.
What's more, the combination of rapidly expanding SNAP rolls and lax oversight and standards has led to rampant exploitation of the system. As we've reported here at Natural News, a number of business owners have been caught in scams where they pay a reduced cash value for a recipient's EBT card balance (food stamps have been replaced by a slick debit-style card called Electronic Benefits Transfer) and pocket the difference.
Now, it seems, the ripping off of U.S. taxpayers via the SNAP program has gone digital.
'This is not a gimmick or a game'
As reported by Fox News, many food stamp beneficiaries are now bypassing scumbag quick-stop retailers and are selling their welfare online, on Craigslist:
The federally-funded grocery assistance coupons -- which are issued by states in the form of debit cards under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- are being sold on the online bulletin board as well as auction sites like eBay. FoxNews.com found several offerings at Craigslist sites around the country, where the sellers offered the welfare benefits at large discounts from face value.
"If you need food. This is not a gimmick or game," said one posting from Philadelphia. "Please let me know, I have food stamps for sale..... Serious Replies only!!!"
"I have $500 worth and it costs $350 cash. No I will not do half!" said another posting from around Atlanta. "I don't need to sell. If you would like to get an extra $150 to $175 in grocery and pay no taxes and can see the benefit that you will still be saving then email me or call me and we can arrange the whole deal as soon as you like."
Such abuse is becoming legion, despite cries from supporters of the program that such claims somehow engender racism or stereotypes. The ads, quite obviously, speak for themselves.
According to the Fox News report, people who are legitimately hungry and desperate are hitting up Craigslist looking for deals on food stamps.
"DO YOU NEED SOME QUICK CASH?? -- $100 (atlanta)," said the title of one such post, in which the buyer offered: "If you get Food Stamps and need some extra cash then hit me asap."
Another posting, from the Trenton, N.J., region, said the seller claimed to have a $100 EBT card available Nov. 1 for only $60.
"Contacted by FoxNews.com and asked about the legality of such a transaction, the seller cryptically responded: 'Lol are u serious is the govt legal of course but I hve a customer Good day [sic]."
According to Craigslist policy, food stamp coupons are among items that are not supposed to be transferred, sold or bartered on the site. However, unless such ads get flagged by others, there is little that such sites - which operate in small, medium and large markets around the nation - can really do.
Government to the public: We're doing all we can do
Critics of the government benefits program say that those who are selling their food stamps most likely don't need them anymore because they've found work but are still collecting taxpayer-supported handouts, or that perhaps they merely want to exchange them for cash so they can either buy drugs or other items which cannot be purchased with EBT cards.
"Fraud and abuse do take place in the food stamps program," Rachel Sheffield, policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation's DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, told FoxNews.com. "There are other types of fraud that also are problematic, such as recipients receiving excess benefits by failing to report a new job or an increase in their earnings.
"To reduce this type of fraud, states should be required to cross-check the food stamp rolls against the National Directory of New Hires. Those who have failed to inform the food stamp office of new employment should have their benefits suspended."
Of course, government drones say they are doing everything possible to end such fraud.