How to Report Food Stamp Fraud in Louisiana

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An individual in Louisiana can report food stamp fraud by a recipient by completing a fraud complaint form available from the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Alternatively, they can call a fraud and recovery representative at 888-LAHELP-U (888-524-3578) and select option 6 from the main menu.

Further, a person can try the new fraud chatbot, called “Geauxbot,” or email DCFS at: DCFS.Fraud@la.gov. The chatbot is on DCFS's website for reporting fraud. It opens automatically when a user accesses the site.

If a person suspects a retailer is accepting food stamp benefits for an unauthorized item like alcohol, they also have the option to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services Compliance section toll-free at 800-424-9121 or usda_hotline@oig.usda.gov. Or, they may write the USDA, Office of the Inspector General, P.O. Box 23399, Washington, D.C. 20026-3399.

Income Limit for Food Stamp Programs

Food stamps are issued under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP benefits are made available through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), delivered on a Louisiana Purchase Card. Allotment amounts for SNAP depend on the number of people in a household and the amount of their net income.

For example, a household of three must have combined maximum monthly total earnings of $2,379 to be eligible for SNAP. The maximum monthly SNAP allotment for a household of three as of October 1, 2021 is $658.

Penalties for Food Stamp Fraud

Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 46 Subsection 114 provides that it is illegal to obtain or attempt to obtain assistance from DCFS or the Louisiana Department of Health by means of a false statement, misrepresentation or other fraud. If a person has received or is receiving assistance like food stamps through misrepresentation, the court can order them or their estate to repay the amount of the debt.

If a person ordered to repay the program is indigent and unable to make payments when they were convicted, the court may order a periodic payment plan that is consistent with the offender's financial ability. The recipient will not have to pay interest on the debt.

Ineligibility for Benefits

A person who has fraudulently obtained benefits is ineligible for further participation in the program for six months after the first incident of fraud. They are ineligible for one year after the second incident of fraud and are permanently ineligible after the third incident of fraud.

During the period of ineligibility, even if a household demonstrates that there are changes that necessitate an increase in benefits, the household may not receive increased benefits. This mandate that the amount of benefits will not change for the period of disqualification is part of the penalty for disqualification.

Examples of Food Stamp Fraud

A person can commit Louisiana food stamp fraud by concealing information that makes them ineligible for aid or for using food stamps to purchase unauthorized items. Specific methods of food stamp fraud include failing to provide DCFS with information that someone in the home:

  • Has begun to work or quit work.
  • Has actual earnings or income that make them ineligible.
  • Engages in self-employment or does odd jobs without reporting the income.
  • Owns property that would disqualify the household for aid.
  • Has money in the bank that would disqualify the household for aid.
  • Has unearned income such as Social Security, child support, unemployment compensation or veteran’s benefits for any household members.
  • Is moving in or out of the home in a way that would change the overall household income.
  • Is receiving assistance in one parish while living in another parish or state.
  • Is receiving assistance in more than one parish or state.

The penalty for food stamp fraud is incarceration for between six months and 10 years and a fine between $5,000 and $1 million.

What Is LaCAP?

The Louisiana Combined Application Project (LaCAP) is a food assistance program for Louisiana residents who are at least 60 years old and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). LaCAP is a simplified version of SNAP. A person who provides false information to LaCAP is committing a type of food stamp fraud.