(Springfield, Mo.) Food stamps being used by dead people? That's only one of the pressing issues brought up in a new audit on the integrity of Missouri's food assistance program.
State Auditor Nicole Galloway unveiled her audit highlighting Missouri's Food Assistance Program which found suspicious cases of fraudulent uses for those who were deceased, incarcerated, or making purchases exclusively out of state.
"In fact we identified $16 million in purchases that were made exclusively out of state for 90 consecutive days or more. These purchases occurred in nearly every state in the nation," explains Galloway.
Galloway discovered these scams are easy to pull off despite recent efforts by the Department of Social Services to crack down on fraud.
"The situations exist because social services does not have effective controls to detect when benefits are used and issued to deceased or incarcerated recipients. It heightens the risk of abuse or misuse of the program."
During a nearly two year review, the report suggests fraud cases failed to review and investigates suspicious activity after receiving more than 50,000 alerts which was not being properly prioritized.
"In many cases social services failed to determine whether fraud had even occurred. The department ignored red flags and did not follow up on important warning signs."
Galloway's team detected more than 3,668 of snap dollars being spent by cardholders who were deceased.
"In one case a cardholder died June 10, 2016 but the benefits were used through December. More than six months after the cardholders death. The account was charged about $2,400 during that time."
The auditor claims her office found more than 2,000 cases of snap dollars being spent by recipients who were incarcerated.
"When there are not processes in place to detect or prevent misuse or abuse of the Food Assistance Program that is really concerning."
However, social services blames a lack of resources for failure to investigate those warnings.
"The Food Assistance Program is designed to help low income Missouri families who are struggling to get food on the table but when mismanagement leads to waste, fraud, and abuse, the program is not serving it’s purpose all while the taxpayers are footing the bill."
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