How to Report Food Stamp Fraud in Indiana

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In Indiana, an individual can report food stamp fraud by contacting the state’s Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA). The phone hotline is active Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Callers should select option 5 and enter their Zip code when prompted.

Report Food Stamp Program Fraud to Indiana

  • Call the Indiana Medicaid/public assistance fraud hotline at 800-403-0864.
  • Email the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration at [email protected].
  • Mail a statement to the FSSA at FSSA Compliance Division, Room E-414, 402 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.
  • Fax a statement to the FSSA at 317-234-2244.

Report Fraud to the USDA

  • Call the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at 800-424-9121.
  • Write the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 23399, Washington, D.C. 20026-3399.
  • Submit a complaint online to the OIG of the USDA.

Information to Include in Report

  • Who committed the fraud, such as an FSSA employee, a vendor, a program participant or an organization like a nonprofit. An incident can involve multiple parties.
  • What acts did the individual or entity committing the fraud do?
  • Where did the fraud take place? Share an address or multiple addresses where the fraudulent activities took place. If some activities took place at certain locations but not at others, specify that. For example, the person engaged in fraud exchanged food stamps for liquor at XYZ store on January 1, 2021 and that same person exchanged food stamps for cigarettes at ABC store, a different store owner, on February 1, 2021.
  • When did the activity take place? If it took place over the course of multiple dates, share the span of time during which the fraud occurred. For example, if the fraud occurred continuously between January 1, 2021 and January 1, 2022, state this. If the fraud occurred on the first of every month for three months, state the fraud occurred on January 1, 2021, February 1, 2021, and March 1, 2021.
  • How are the individuals involved? For example, if one person was a recipient of food stamps and another the store owner selling prohibited items to them.
  • How were the individuals involved able to perform the alleged activity?
  • Does the person reporting the fraud know the party committing the wrongdoing?
  • What are the names and contact information for witnesses who can verify the allegations?

Indiana FSSA Operates State Hotline

The FSSA’s chief of investigations takes reports from concerned individuals; employees and contractors, such as vendors of a nonprofit engaged in fraud; and sub-recipients such as the child of a person engaged in fraud. A party can make an anonymous report – the FSSA keeps all reports completely confidential. A party can use the fraud hotline to report:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food assistance fraud.
  • Medicaid and other state health care plans fraud.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or cash assistance fraud.
  • Child care development fund fraud and other FSSA public assistance program fraud.

How Participants Get SNAP

The USDA’s SNAP program allows a participant to pay for food using SNAP benefits. The Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows for such payments. When a participant shops at a SNAP authorized retail store, their SNAP EBT account is debited. EBT has been in use since June 2004 in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

What Constitutes Food Stamp Fraud?

Food stamp fraud, also called SNAP fraud, EBT fraud and welfare fraud, often involves providing false information to a state agency, accessing prohibited items or selling food stamps. There are three main types of food stamp fraud:

  • Trafficking, which involves buying or selling EBT benefits for cash. Penalties include permanent disqualification, forfeiture of property and a fine for each violation.
  • Selling ineligible items, such as cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol or expensive nonfood items for EBT benefits. This can result in a three- to five-year disqualification or equivalent civil fine.
  • Selling common ineligible items such as detergent or paper products for EBT benefits. This can result in a six-month to three-year disqualification or an equivalent civil fine.

Actions that Can Be Considered Food Stamp Fraud

Food stamp fraud can involve these actions:

  • Intentionally providing false information or omitting relevant information to get, retain or increase food stamp benefits. For example, if a person failed to report that they had a spouse and did not mention their spouse’s income in an application for SNAP benefits, this would constitute omission. Failing to report the ownership of valuable items such as vehicles would also constitute omission.
  • Acquiring, altering, counterfeiting, purchasing, selling, transferring or using authorizations to get food stamps or taking such actions with the food stamps themselves.
  • Filing more than one application to get multiple benefits, when only one application is allowed.
  • Applying for benefits under multiple names or under fake names to get multiple benefits, when only one set of benefits is allowed.

Definition of Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)

P-EBT is part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was established by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and offers benefits that are very similar to SNAP benefits.

The benefits go to children that would have received free or reduced price school meals if not for COVID-related school closures and COVID-related reductions in school hours and attendance. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) treats P-EBT benefits the same as SNAP benefits for purposes of identifying and penalizing participants who violate the rules.

Penalties for Food Stamp Fraud

Penalties for food stamp fraud depend on the amount to which a party defrauded the SNAP program. An Indiana prosecutor can charge a participant with a misdemeanor or a felony for each instance of a violation. A party can be arrested for food stamp fraud.

The penalty for one count of a Level 6 felony, the lowest level of felony in Indiana, is a term of between six months and two and a half years of incarceration and a fine up to $10,000. In some instances, when a person is convicted of a Level 6 felony, the court may enter judgment and a conviction as a Class A misdemeanor. A party who has been charged with food stamp fraud may also be charged with forgery, if the facts of the case indicate this took place to commit the fraud.

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