Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Welfare money used to gamble


From NBC:

Tens of thousands of New York welfare dollars have been accessed from ATMs in liquor stores, strip clubs and even Atlantic City casinos, an I-team investigation has found.

The I-team sifted through records of more than 7 million ATM withdrawals in which money was obtained using an Electronic Benefits Transfer card or EBT card.

The cards have essentially replaced traditional food stamps and are supposed to be used by New York's neediest for basic necessities like groceries and diapers.

EBT cards can also be used to access designated amounts of cash via ATM.

The I-team found more than $95,000 withdrawn in Atlantic City over nearly two years, much of it in casinos like the Trump Taj Mahal, Caesar's Palace and The Borgata.

Aside from casinos, the I-team found thousands of dollars withdrawn from ATMs at addresses tied to liquor stores and strip clubs. The most popular strip club for food stamp withdrawals was a gentleman’s club call "Perfection" in Woodside, Queens where welfare recipients hit the ATM 15 times totaling more than $1,000.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

you can't take food stamps out of a machine. There was a time when food stamp recipients gave their card to a rude Pakastani behind bullet proof glass in check cashing place and got paper food stamps, but now it's all on the same card as cash benefits and medicaid. you have to use them at a vendor like a supermarket, grocery store or deli. there are some supermarkets that don't let you buy hot food w/ food stamps, only uncooked food. that means that the strip club maybe involved with food stamp fraud.

Anonymous said...

Horrors of horror. What would Bill Bennett say?

Anonymous said...

NMaspeth Moms...If verizon can block certina numbers from calling your cellphone.. NYC Dept of Welfare can set up a system of blocked user machines. Computers are very sophisticated. They can block users from obtaining funds thru certain machines. The system just has to be implemented. Unlike Bloomberg's other computer fiascos...this one would be worth implementing. Hawaai....really.

Anonymous said...

Not surprised at all

Anonymous said...

Well what do you want from your Govt? Your liberal and have liberal tastes like gambling and strip clubs which are legal and now are subsidized by you! For crying out loud gamblers - keep it in the family - go to Gentings in Ozone Park!

Anonymous said...

How did the I-Team get access to the transaction records?

Anonymous said...

Civilization depends upon people willing and able to work. For those unable to work, there is charity.

Taxpayers are being played for fools. There will never be enough bureaucrats to prevent fraud in welfare programs where there is free money.

Anonymous said...

Where's Mocker on this? Oh that's right, he doesn't go after individuals..only government agencies. Nice and safe to do that, right?

Anonymous said...

Mostly likely, a whistle-blower with access to the transaction records who was frustrated that nothing was being done to prevent this abuse.

Not to worry, more effort will be spent to identify the leaker than to actually go after fraudulent EBT use.

Anonymous said...

How did the I-Team get access to the transaction records?

---------------------------------

Good for them for however they did it. They should be made fully public.

You want public money? The public has a right to know where you are spending it. End of story.

Anonymous said...

America -- What a Country! Time to cut resources to all welfare recipients. Cards should only be accepted at food stores. The benefits should only pay for staples -- bread, milk, meat,eggs and vegetables. Ban all junk food. If these people want extras, they should get a job, just like the rest of us slobs who are supporting them. Cut out ETB cards to all illegals. We'd save a ton of money. They are not entitled to any benefits. They shouldn't be here in the first place. Americans are barely scraping by to feed their families, yet we're expected to support these criminals.

Anonymous said...

Ok so while this is obviously a problem, what percentage is 95K over 2 years out of what is being paid out and used for its intended purpose? That might put this into perspective. Lets temper the outrage a little.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had 95K in my pocket. The big issue here is that welfare is supposed to be an emergency temporary benefit until someone can get back on their feet. Using your card at a casino is a no no. Taxpayers who live from paycheck to paycheck are also paying for these people. 95K is money that could be used to stock food pantries at local food banks.

Anonymous said...

Hey everybody, this is chump change, so don't be a bunch of chumps. These losers want to drain their modest public assistance this way, so be it. It's not worth the hassle to stop it. How many inspectors, even at modest salary, do you want on this case? 1? 2? Not worth it.

This site is supposed to be about the tweeding of the borough, but I see just a lot of griping about people who are already pretty marginal.

Little here about the corporate banks that have devastated our community and the fatcats raking in "fees" as the market tops 13k.

You are pissing your time away if you're worried about the little guy.

Ridgewoodian said...

Let's take it to the back of the envelope, shall we? $95,000 worth of benefits over two years were apparently accessed in dubious locations. Let's call that $100,000 just to have a nice round number. There were seven million transactions. We're not told the total value of those transactions. Let's lowball it for the time being. Let's say every transaction was for exactly $1. That's a total of $7,000,000, of which $100,000 might be being used illegitimately. That's about 1.42% of total outlays. In other words, over 98% of the money was being used for what it was intended for. You get a 98 on a test at school and that’s a high A.

Now, it's been a long time since I've seen an ATM in this city that spits out anything less than a $20. So let's say each of these transactions was for $20. That would work out to $140,000,000 in outlays, against that same dubious $100,000. That's 0.07%. That’s a rounding error. That’s random noise in the system.

There's always going to be fraud an inefficiency in any human endeavor, and I don't doubt that we should try to eliminate when we find it (Wall St, I'm looking at YOU). Sure, these cards probably shouldn’t work in strip clubs or casinos and if they can fix that for less than $100,000 they should. But, clearly, this is just not a major problem.

Anonymous said...

Outrage, especially outrage stemming from a deeply ingrained stereotype that no one who receives benefits really needs or deserves them, is far easier than math.

Queens Crapper said...

I love when lunatic liberals defend fraud. The outrage is over people misusing food stamps by gambling with them, hence proving they don't need them. How many nonprofits were denied grants because some assholes wanted to go to AC?

Anonymous said...

It's $95k just in Atlantic City. I guess watching the videos is too much to ask of bleeding hearts.

Queens Crapper said...

If you bothered to watch both stories, you would know that the fraud adds up to $9M.

Anonymous said...

Most people receiving "EBT cards" who are able to work and don't think of those who work are stupid.

Fraud of this type is a mere game to EBT cardholders. They laugh at your outrage.

Auntie Invasion said...

does any of the posters know the amount of money a single adult welfare recipient gets twice a month? the $215. rent goes directly to the landlord. that's right in NYC only $215. per month for shelter.
the huge amount you are all got yourselves so uptight over is $67. twice a month for utilities and "other". that doesn't pay for toilet paper and/or subway fare. or cleaning products.

What you all should be screaming about are the illegal immigrants who are being handed welfare benefits and the invasion of third world individuals employed by the City of New York in HRA. Give those jobs to American Citizens first.

Another thing to scream about, the blatant racism by black workers in HRA. overheard in a welfare office one day while advocating for a man dying of AIDS, said by a supervisor, "welfare is for black woman and their babies". But, not to worry, the black Americans are all being slowly replaced by aggressive third world people which includes homicidally overweight and I mean HUGE like Hippos, black women from African countries.

Want something else to post about? look at the bank where the welfare money is kept, JP Morgan. you know who answers the phone when someone calls that number on the back of the card? you guessed it. a call center in India. those jobs are being outsourced. Scream about that Crapper. that's the real fraud.

Ridgewoodian said...

CRAPPER: I love when lunatic liberals defend fraud. I don’t see anyone here defending fraud. I do see some people trying to put it into perspective and trying to figure out how bad a problem it really is.

CRAPPER: The outrage is over people misusing food stamps by gambling with them, hence proving they don't need them. Except that the report itself says very clearly that they don’t know what the money was spent on. $95,000 over two years was withdrawn in Atlantic City, “much” of it in casinos. How much of that was gambled with? Who knows, hard to say. Maybe some of it – and shame on those who wasted their assistance that way. But we don’t know that. Isn’t it at least as likely that someone working a terrible third shift job in the middle of the night cleaning toilets or sweeping floors used his or her card in the casino ATM to access their benefits?

CRAPPER: How many nonprofits were denied grants because some assholes wanted to go to AC? If we assume that every single cent of that $95K over two years was spent fraudulently, that works out to $47,500 per year. Which is maybe enough for the salary of one mid-level person in a nonprofit.

CRAPPER: If you bothered to watch both stories, you would know that the fraud adds up to $9M. No, what adds up to $9M is the use of these cards outside of New York and the states bordering on New York. I don’t know what the rules are about such usage but if it was absolutely forbidden it seems it would be fairly easy to make it impossible. The report was presented in such a way to make it look like all these welfare queens are jetting off to Aspen and Maui to kick back and live it up but there’s not one shred of evidence to support that. And, as someone in the report pointed out, poor people do often travel for seasonal work. Also, once again, if every single cent of that $9M was spent fraudulently, in the context of a $5B budget that works out to 0.18% fraud. Again, IF this is a problem, it’s not a very big problem.

Anonymous said...

Look what the cat dragged in. Ridgewoodian. The Prodigal Son returns.

Queens Crapper said...

"Putting things in perspective" is code for defending it. And I'm not talking about hiring nonprofit employees. I'm talking about the grants they get from discretionary funding which usually range from 1-10k.

Anonymous said...

"How many nonprofits were denied grants because some assholes wanted to go to AC?"

Because non profits NEVER abuse or misuse funds.

Some people will always find a way to scam the system.

And I don't agree with your assumption that because the withdrawals were made in AC that they were used for gambling. They could have easily been used for drugs or hookers!

Queens Crapper said...

"Because non profits NEVER abuse or misuse funds."

Bad argument. The grants given to non-profits are for specific purposes and most of the time are reimbursement grants, not prior to purchase. Plus, when non-profits get caught doing wrong, there is generally punishment. Here, there's proof that many people did wrong and I can almost guarantee that they will not be made to pay the money back they misused.

Anonymous said...

"The outrage is over people misusing food stamps by gambling with them, hence proving they don't need them."

That doesn't prove they don't need them. Someone can gamble their benefit money away, and starve their children for the rest of the month. Plenty of poor people gamble away their rent and food money. It doesn't mean they don't need to pay rent or eat, it means they have a problem (likely a multitude of problems) and are incapable of good decision making.

To the first poster, when there were paper food stamps, there was rampant fraud as well. Plenty of people would sell their food stamps at the beginning of the month for cents on the dollar. There was an entire black market based on food stamps.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... no one responded to illegal aliens being employed by HRA & the fact that it's the banks committing fraud by outsourcing the jobs to India.

if there were jobs in the USA, people wouldn't need welfare.

Anonymous said...

"if there were jobs in the USA, people wouldn't need welfare."

A lot of people receiving food stamps ARE working. We are ok with the working class making unlivable wages so corporations can get a marginal increase on their multi-million dollar returns.

Ridgewoodian said...

CRAPPER: "Putting things in perspective" is code for defending it. Wrong.

Ridgewoodian said...

CRAPPER: Here, there's proof that many people did wrong…
Wrong. What there’s proof of is that EBT cards were used ATMs in AC, in liquor stores, in strip clubs, in California, etc. The reports offered no proof that the withdrawn money was used illegitimately. The reporter in the first clip even said they don’t know how the money was spent. Now, maybe some of the money was used to gamble, and maybe some of it bought lap dances – I’m not na├»ve. But no actual proof has been presented that any of it did (other explanations are at least as reasonable) and any that did was such a small amount in the context of the size of this program as to be negligible.

Honestly, these reports weren’t designed to actually inform the public. That’s boring. They exist to rile up emotions, which keeps the eyeballs on the screen and the ad dollars flowing. They hint broadly that those damn welfare kings and queens are living it up on our dime but then offer little to substantiate their never quite stated allegations. Do they actually say the poor are gambling with welfare money or doing anything else with it that they shouldn’t be? No, not in so many words. Is that the message they got through? Crapper certainly seems to think so – check the headline. Now THAT’S talking in code!