A public assistance service that feeds Ohio’s hungry families can double as currency for drug dealers who will trade almost anything for their product.
Dubious businesses and drug dealers will buy electronic benefits cards for about half the amount loaded onto the card. From there, people use the cash to buy drugs, said Eric Wolf, agent in charge with the Ohio Investigative Unit, which investigates food stamp fraud and liquor license violations.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, cannot be used to buy items such as tobacco, alcohol or drugs. The penalties can be stiff for offending businesses and their owners because food stamp fraud is a felony offense, Wolf said.
In the past five years, the food stamp program has permanently disqualified 142 stores in Ohio for food stamp fraud — nearly all were in Ohio’s largest cities. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not track how many of those were related to drugs
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