Senate approves tougher penalties for SNAP fraud

The Senate unanimously approved legislation today that will help reduce fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and hold perpetrators accountable, according to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Ryan Aument (R-36).

Senate Bill 1127 would create stronger penalties against individuals and businesses that fraudulently traffic SNAP benefits.

“SNAP trafficking not only hurts the people who need our help most, but it also injects cash directly into illegal markets, including the drug trade,” Aument said. “It is critical to ensure the unscrupulous individuals who defraud this program and take advantage of vulnerable populations are held accountable for the damage they cause.”

The bill stems from a case uncovered last year by the Office of State Inspector General in which a Harrisburg restaurant traded drugs for EBT cards and bought thousands of dollars of supplies from a food wholesale club to be resold for profit.

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Aument’s bill would create a new penalty for the fraudulent trafficking of SNAP benefits in an amount greater than $2,500. Violators would be required to pay restitution of up to three times the amount of fraud they committed.

“The cost of providing benefits to needy Pennsylvanians continues to climb, so we cannot afford to see a single dollar lost to fraud or abuse,” Aument said. “Passage of this bill sends a strong message that public benefit programs are intended to help low-income citizens – not to serve as a cash cow for criminals.”

Senate Bill 1127 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.