The government is back at work, and markets are laden with fruits, pork, fish and bread. Shredded trees are sprouting new leaves. Above all, the sounds of a city getting back on its feet fill the air: the roar of...Full Story >
The government is back at work, and markets are laden with fruits, pork, fish and bread. Shredded trees are sprouting new leaves. Above all, the sounds of a city getting back on its feet fill the air: the roar of trucks...Full Story >
South Africans flocked to houses of worship for a national day of prayer and reflection to honor former President Nelson Mandela, starting planned events to commemorate the liberation struggle icon that will...Full Story >
South Africans of all races flocked to houses of worship Sunday for a national day of prayer and reflection to honor Nelson Mandela, unified in their love for a historic figure whose funeral is expected to be one of the...Full Story >
A storm system that spread snow, sleet and freezing rain widely across the nation's midsection is headed toward the densely populated Eastern seaboard promising more of the same.Full Story >
A powerful storm system that spread hazardous snow, sleet and freezing rain widely across the nation's midsection rumbled toward the densely populated Eastern seaboard on Sunday, promising more of the same.Full Story >
The Southeastern Conference has stated its case. Now all Auburn can do is watch, wait and hope for No. 1 Florida State or No. 2 Ohio State to stumble.Full Story >
The last steps to the BCS championship game summed up their seasons.Full Story >
By Melissa Correa - bio | email Posted by Terry Alexander - email
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Food stamps aren't stamps anymore. Each month an allowance is placed on one a card that is similar to a credit or debit card. They come with enhanced security features. But just as the program has evolved, so has the fraud.
Robin Stufano has logged more hours on the phone, than some of the most talkative teens. She and her partner are the Fraud Unit for Chesterfield County Department of Social Services.
"We've definitely had an increase in the calls," said Robin Stufano. "They're calling in and saying ‘well this person's working at XYZ store and I know that they're getting the benefits.'"
Come up with a story about possible food stamp fraud and chances are she's heard it because in the last five years, the number of participants has jumped from a mere 5,000 to more than 10,000. The number of open fraud investigations is also rising.
"We currently have about 125 open investigations," Stufano said.
Around 25-30 complaints are made weekly. Tips come in from family members, even shoppers, eyeing what they believe is suspicious activity.
"We have to investigate every referral," she said.
But often times, with a check of the state employment database, cases are quickly closed.
"There's a good number of-they just call in and the person isn't even on benefits anymore," said Stufano.
Investigators say they receive a lot of calls -- people confused about what food stamps can be used for. Now they can't be used on paper goods, prepared meals, or beer and cigarettes, but they can be used to buy a wedding cake.
"Just because it's a public assistance benefit doesn't mean that we try to control every decision that a family makes," said Director of Chesterfield Department of Social Services Marsha Sharpe.
Sharpe says S.N.A.P. -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- is just that. Families have the choice on what food is purchased. She says that doesn't sit well with some tax-payers.
"They'll say ‘I saw so-and-so buying such-and-such at the market and I don't believe they should be,'" Sharpe said.
When most people think of food stamp fraud they think of people selling their benefits. But actually, the more popular crime is giving false information. False information can be: not reporting actual income, the number of people in a home, or the county of residence.
"If they try to get benefits in another locality at the same time that they're getting benefits at this locality, they can be barred from the program for 10 years," Stufano said.
And there are two types of trouble: inadvertent household error -- when a person doesn't know information like income, needs to be updated; or fraud. Both require all benefits to be paid back.
If found guilty of fraud, a person must wait one year before re-applying. With a second offense -- wait two years. Three strikes and you're out.
Yet even with boosted participation and complaints, in the last five years, Chesterfield Social Services reports only 105 people have been guilty of fraud. The reason for the low number: intense training for case counselors and added security features for cards -- like a pin number.
In order to qualify for supplemental nutrition assistance you must meet income and household requirements. The Chesterfield Department of Social Services reports food stamps are temporary and most people leave the program after a year.
If you want to know how many cases of food stamp fraud are in your area, click here. We've posted information including the number of convictions and open investigations
Saturday, December 7 2013 6:07 PM EST2013-12-07 23:07:22 GMT
After Genevieve Smith had been missing since December 5, the 42-year-old's body was found in a car near Ripley, Ohio. The body of Andrew Smith, 55, her estranged husband, was found as well. Full Story >
After Genevieve Smith had been missing since December 5, the 42-year-old's body was found in a car near Ripley, Ohio. The body of Andrew Smith, 55, who the sheriff says is Smith's estranged husband, was also found in the car. Full Story >
Wednesday, December 4 2013 12:42 AM EST2013-12-04 05:42:35 GMT
MADISON COUNTY, KY (WAVE) – A mother is facing charges after she allegedly left her children in a bedroom with drugs and a corpse. According to Richmond police, around 8:30 a.m. on November 30 officersFull Story >
According to Richmond police, around 8:30 a.m. on November 30 officers responded to a home in Dixie Plaza on a report a 24-year-old man had overdosed.Full Story >
Saturday, December 7 2013 12:31 PM EST2013-12-07 17:31:11 GMT
Police say impairment appears to be a factor in a single-vehicle crash that sent four people to the hospital Officers say that the accident happened around 2:05 p.m. on Friday afternoon near mile markerFull Story >
Police say impairment appears to be a factor in a single-vehicle crash that sent four people to the hospitalFull Story >
Saturday, December 7 2013 4:04 PM EST2013-12-07 21:04:08 GMT
A small town came together Friday night to do something that a special little girl will likely never forget. Outside Oak Grove, MO's city hall, the signs of Christmas are up with lights and wreaths everywhere.Full Story >
A small town came together Friday night to do something that a special little girl will likely never forget.Full Story >
Authorities say a bar owner in Nashville told police he shot a country music singer in self-defense at his club.Full Story >
A downtown bar owner told police he fatally shot a country music singer in self-defense after the two got into an argument over the musician smoking a cigarette in a no-smoking area, authorities said.Full Story >
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