Pittsburgh’s Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations unit and the Pittsburgh office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General are stepping up efforts locally to prevent food stamp fraud. Their focus is on retailers that fraudulently trade cash and cigarettes for payment in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. If convicted, store owners have to pay restitution and may face additional penalties such as house arrest or even jail.
However, individuals who illegally collect SNAP benefits are also at risk of being charged. If you are questioned by federal authorities for food stamp fraud, it is critical that you retain an experienced and aggressive defense attorney.
Food Stamp Fraud and Individuals
Someone who collects food stamps they are not entitled to, for example, mis-reporting facts about their family size or income to qualify, risks losing their SNAP benefits and having to pay restitution.
Food Stamp Fraud and Retailers
Owners of convenience stores, groceries and other businesses who engage in food stamp fraud risk being made ineligible for accepting EBT cards, a disqualification would cause many of these retailers to lose a large share of their business. Merchants are also at risk of being sentenced to prison and having to pay restitution.
Items that are illegal to be exchanged for SNAP benefits include money, cigarettes, and alcohol.
What Pennsylvania Law Says About Food Stamp Fraud
Pennsylvania state law governing welfare and food stamp fraud is too extensive to restate here and requires the explanation of an experienced defense attorney. (If you have recently been charged and you want to know more about the penalties you face, please give me a call at (412) 281-2146 for a free case evaluation where I can walk you through food stamp fraud under Pennsylvania law.)