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Are you receiving welfare benefits like food stamps from the government and worried that you might get charged with welfare fraud? What the government considers to be a serious infraction could be something that you simply overlooked or weren’t 100 percent sure about. For instance, what if you’ve been taking online surveys that pay cash and the social services office finds out? You may not have thought about reporting this excess money but if it raises your monthly income over your reporting threshold you could be in trouble. Sometimes the actions of others may seem innocent, like lending your benefits card to a friend. If that friend decides to use your card for fraudulent purposes, then you are at fault.
The government is heavy-handed when it comes to finding food stamp benefit fraud and the penalties can be harsh. If you’ve reported 6 people living in your house when in fact you only have 5, you have committed fraud. It’s possible that you simply didn’t think about calling the social services office to report it; maybe your child went to college and you didn’t know you had to report the change in your household right away. No matter how unintentional it is, this is still considered fraudulent because you are receiving money for 6 people instead of 5.
What if you are low on diapers for your baby and don’t have cash? Suppose you offer to buy a friend their groceries using your food stamps in exchange for cash to buy the much-needed diapers. Another way to buy non-food items with your benefits is to find a small grocery store willing to ring up items on your card as food. It’s possible that the cashier will engage in this behavior for a small fee. Food stamp fraud such as those in the examples is a crime. No matter what the reason for making the fraudulent transactions these are all punishable offenses.
One of the issues of being low income is that you don’t have the resources to cover emergencies such as a flat tire. Life sometimes forces you to chose how to respond to these situations and can push you to act in a way that you normally wouldn’t. If you’ve been accused of committing food stamp fraud, it’s important that you get the help of a lawyer right away. Experienced welfare lawyers can help show that the act was unintentional and save you from losing your benefits and having to pay back prior benefits. The government has a large staff ready to find you guilty. You owe it to yourself to have the power of the law on your side.