(KFDX/KJTL) — The Trump administration claims as many as 3 million people could be collecting benefits they don’t deserve. So the administration is proposing sweeping rule changes when it comes to the food stamp program. It is the main federal food assistance program, paying out more than $60 billion a year.
But attorney Todd Spodek says food stamps are riddled with fraud.
“it’s an epidemic,” says Spodek.
Total numbers on food stamp fraud are hard to come by, but the agriculture department, which runs the program, says 6.8% of payments are in error, either too much or too little.
Some 40 million Americans make use of the supplemental nutritional assistance program, or SNAP, what’s commonly known as food stamps. For many, it is the difference between surviving and going hungry. But that’s not always the case.
In a story told on the next American Greed, fundamentalist Mormon sect leader Lyle Jeffs, admits he ran a $2 million scam, forcing followers to funnel their SNAP benefits to the church and to him.
“literally we were starving,” says Jeffs.
But most SNAP fraud is smaller scale-like recipients fudging their applications, or retailers selling items that aren’t covered.
“Anytime you have a public welfare system where millions of dollars are at their disposal, someone’s going to be creative enough to try to find a loophole,” says Spodek.
The Trump administration says its plan could save $2.5 billion a year.
But critics say the program works well for its size, and the changes would cut off millions of the truly needy.