Food stamps are a part of the federal welfare assistance program designed to help low-income families purchase food. However, only families below a certain income level can qualify for the program, and it is not uncommon for people to lie or omit information in order to qualify, and abuse the Food Stamp Program. This kind of fraud is treated very seriously, and can mean some major legal consequences.
The federal Food Stamp Program, which is now referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a government program designed to help low-income individuals and families purchase food for their household to maintain good health. The program also provides education about nutrition and healthy living. Those who are eligible receive a debit type card that you use at the checkout called an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.
The application process for SNAP is taken care of through your state's government, and an application for your state can be obtained by visiting a local office or by calling the SNAP hotline number for your state. Some states also allow you to apply online. See the USDA site for more information.
With the SNAP program, fraud constitutes providing false or misleading information or withholding information on your application to receive benefits for which you are not eligible, or misusing the program by purchasing items that are not part of the program or other fraudulent use of the EBT card. Even if you do not end up receiving benefits, you can be charged for fraud. If you are suspected of fraud, an investigation will take place to evaluate your eligibility for the program. If you have been found to have intentionally misled the government on your application, your benefits will stop, and you may be required to pay back the money you have collected. You may also face criminal prosecution.