In 2012, a record number 46 million Americans relied on some type of government food assistance program.
With the number of people using food stamps on the rise, so is the potential for fraud. According to national estimates, about 1 percent of food stamps are used fraudulently; either to purchase something not approved by the program or sold for cash.
Between September 2011 and August 2012, $155,823,292 was issued in food assistance to the people of Lucas County. If local fraud rates hold with national estimates, that means about $1.5 million in food stamp money was lost to fraud in Lucas County in 2012. From 2009 to November 2012, 70 food stamp fraud cases were closed in the Toledo area alone.
"Throughout the state of Ohio, people have been able to purchase cigarettes, alcohol, counterfeit items such as purses, sneakers," said Julie Hinds of the Ohio Investigative Unit.
Fortunately for tax payers, the unit is fighting back. In the fall of 2012, Toledo News Now cameras were rolling when a search warrant was executed at downtown Toledo business, Shop Shop. Officials charged owner Angela Nattle with illegal use of an EBT card after a confidential informant used a debit style food stamp card to purchase alcohol and other items.
UPDATE: August, 2013: On 7-10-13, Angela Nattle was found guilty of three counts of illegal use of food stamp or WIC Program benefits. On Aug. 21, she was sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to three years of community control. She also has lost her ability to accept food stamps at her business.
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