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Audit Details Methods for Detecting Food Stamps Abuse

The state auditor’s office has released a report with recommendations for catching and dealing with food stamps abuse.

The report detailed how the Department of Workforce Services could use past data to improve its oversight of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, or food stamps, in Utah. The audit detailed how some users frequently reported their benefit cards as missing and requested new ones, leading auditors to believe they were actually selling their cards.

“When somebody has a trend of frequently requesting new food stamps cards that is an indication of potential trafficking where they may be selling their card,” says David Pulsipher, an auditor for the state.

He says one user admitted to selling benefit cards for drugs in the past. He also said there were hundreds of food stamps users claiming residency and benefits in Utah, even though they were using the majority of those benefits outside of Utah.

But Pulsipher says the point of the audit wasn’t to detail how much is being wasted or reinforce stereotypes of leeching food stamps recipients. He says his office issued recommendations to the Department of Workforce Services for investigating suspicious food stamps use and improving the system.

“And we expect that the full implementation of the recommendations will significantly impact the administration of the food stamps program for the positive,” Pulsipher says.

He says the DWS has already begun to implement some of those recommendations. In a statement, Kevin Burt with the DWS said, "We're looking at what we're already doing successfully, looking at the good recommendations from the audit, and working with the auditors to see where we can further enhance our prevention efforts."

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