Dec. 17, 2020

EXTRA CHEESE: Welfare Fraud and COVID-19


In this episode of our new segment, Extra Cheese, Becca and Sarah discuss an ongoing case of welfare fraud through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They then touch on how shoplifting rates for food items are at an all-time high due to COVID-19.

For a full list of references, visit our website.

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References

Benefits.gov. (n.d.). Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Retrieved from https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/1169 

Bhattarai, A., & Denham, H. (2020 Dec 10). Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/10/pandemic-shoplifting-hunger/ 

Henshaw, S. (2020 Dec 8). Reading woman charged with food stamp fraud, forgery. Reading Eagle. Retrieved from https://www.readingeagle.com/news/crime/reading-woman-charged-with-food-stamp-fraud-forgery/article_87d9644e-395c-11eb-b740-8bd251c5137a.html  

Transcript

Just a little run down of what Extra Cheese is - every 2nd week we will share a current news headline with you about food crimes, the food industry, recalls and more. All the stories will be ones that we think are important to talk about and for you to know.

 

Today we are going to chat about an article by Steven Henshaw written for the Reading Eagle, which is the daily newspaper in Reading, Pennsylvania. And this story is about a 28 year old woman named D’Maris Vasquez. The article is called “Reading woman charged with food stamp fraud, forgery”.

 

As the title of the article suggests, earlier this month Vasquez was charged with forgery and welfare fraud.

 

In 2018, she had applied and successfully qualified for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP...which for those of you who don’t live in the US is their food benefit program or food stamps. While Vasquez did qualify for the program initially, she was also receiving unclaimed income from a nursing home that she was working at for part of 2018. When questioned about the employment she claimed that she was no longer employed there and provided an employment termination letter from her employer.

 

In 2019, a year later, a caseworker asked her to provide her wage verification, which she did, claiming that she still had no income. However, they then contacted her “previous” employer, they claimed that Vasquez had actually received income throughout 2019. They also verified that the termination letter was not written by them, leading them to believe that it was forged by Vasquez.

 

Ultimately it was found that Vasquez had received over $3,000 in excess SNAP benefits from December 2018 - May 2019. She waived the preliminary hearing, meaning that the case will proceed to trial. (Henshaw, 2020). 

 

Now let’s talk about this. 

 

If you see any headlines you think we should cover - email us at dieteticsafterdark@gmail.com! If we cover it, we will give you a shoutout in the episode.