No one knows – least of all the Department of Agriculture who is supposed to have a handle on how much taxpayer money is being flushed down the toilet by individual fraudsters who game the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps).
In Iowa, a long time investigator with the state’s Department of Inspections and Appeals scoffs at the idea that the Agriculture Department has any clue how much fraud is committed by individual recipients of SNAP benefits.
Dishman says the Food and Nutrition Service, the division of USDA that runs SNAP, doesn’t even have reliable data on the extent of fraud committed by recipients.
“There’s a lot of inconsistencies in the data they collect,” Dishman told Iowa Watchdog.
FNS investigates cases of SNAP fraud committed by vendors but leaves it to the states to investigate fraud by benefit recipients.
In 2013, DIA investigated 2,499 cases of potential fraud by SNAP recipients. In 1,749 of the cases, DIA discovered recipients either had provided incorrect information to the Iowa Department of Human Services, which administers SNAP benefits in the state, or had committed some form of deliberate fraud.