SNAP ‘skimming’ victims to get stolen benefits reimbursed

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The new law came when a class action lawsuit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court on behalf of thousands of Massachusetts families who had SNAP benefits stolen from their accounts and are seeking refunds.

Betsy Gwin, senior attorney at the nonprofit Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, said: “I think this is a really positive step.”

However, Gwin says the positive effects are limited. More than 5,000 Massachusetts households will receive $1.6 million in SNAP benefits from June 2022 to November 2022, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transition Assistance, the lawsuit-appointed agency that oversees Massachusetts’ SNAP program. reported stolen.

Compensation only covers a small percentage of affected households, Gwin said.

“We cannot cover the losses that every Massachusetts household has experienced,” Gwin said. I have had my benefits stolen by , and I am not subject to this federal rule.”

The US Department of Agriculture, which funds the program, issued a warning about SNAP skimming in late October, with electronics theft soaring in recent months. A fraudster “skimmes” her EBT card via an undetectable device inserted into her reader, clones the card, and steals the card number and her PIN.

Class-action plaintiff Natalie Ramsay, 71, who lives in Boston with her 34-year-old disabled son, sees no relief under the new law after her funds were stolen in July.

When Rahmsay went to America’s Food Basket to buy $91 worth of groceries on July 11, she found that her account didn’t have enough money to cover it. She later found out that someone had used her $399.84 from her account. July 2nd at Sam’s Club in Cicero, Illinois.

Rahmsay is not a member of Sam’s Club and has never been to Cicero, Illinois.

“The loss of nearly $400 on SNAP in July took a toll on Mr. Rahmsay’s finances,” the lawsuit states.

Since then, Rahmsay has struggled to regain her financial footing, postponing some payments and using her and her son’s limited disability income to buy food, the lawsuit said. increase.

EBT cards are not subject to federal protections that protect credit and debit cardholders in the event of fraud.

“This is a vile crime that really targets the most vulnerable among us,” Rep. Charles Albert “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland said in a telephone interview Thursday. Ruppersberger introduced a similar bill, HR 9319, into Congress in November to allow states to reissue aid for stolen food with federal funds.

Currently, the federal government does not require states to reissue stolen SNAP funds. And while federal law prohibits states from using federal funds to compensate victims, states could use their own funds, but most states do not.

“How it works is that the federal government pays for all these victims, but it has to go through the states,” Ruppersberger said. “So we need to involve all states in the process.”

he continued, “We’re hearing from families who had to give up Christmas gifts for their kids because their grocery money was stolen.”

Tonya Alanez can be reached at [email protected]. follow her on her twitter @Taranes.

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