NEW YORK (PIX11) — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says she is disgusted and personally outraged by a crime targeting low-income working families across New York and the United States.
Gillibrand is now introducing federal legislation called the SNAP Theft Protection Act that would allow states to reimburse victims who have been robbed of money from their EBT cards.
The crime is called “skimming.” Scammers skim EBT cards that hold SNAP benefits information by secretly installing a device on ATM readers. With that information, they then drain people’s accounts. It happened to 40-year-old Alisa Minton, from the Rockaways, who lost nearly $400. It’s money she uses to help support herself and her six children.
PIX11 News first exposed the scam with Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson of Far Rockaway, Queens. He said his office was getting flooded with calls from people like 50-year-old Lakisha Martinez from the Rockaways, who had $900 stolen from her EBT card.
Andersen said people don’t know they are being victimized until they go to use their cards and find out most or all of their money is gone.
The state agency in charge is OTDA, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
“The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a crucial lifeline to more than 2.8 million New Yorkers,” OTDA Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said. “But when recipients have their benefits stolen, deserving New Yorkers are unable to get their stolen benefits replaced, seriously hampering the household budgets of families and individuals in need. We are grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her leadership and for putting forward a needed federal solution to this nationwide problem.”
A DSS spokesperson told PIX11 News, “Protecting our clients from any instances of fraud or misconduct when accessing vital social services is a top priority. We do not tolerate any violation of the public trust that is fundamental to the critical work of serving New Yorkers in need. In service of this mission, we have implemented various agency-wide safeguards, which include robust accountability and oversight mechanisms, fraud prevention resources and related outreach, and work to ensure that such instances are investigated.”