NEW YORK (PIX11) — Families across New York City say money is being stolen from their SNAP benefits and when they ask city and state agencies to step in, nothing happens.
Dozens of families have reached out to New York Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson for help. They go grocery shopping with their EBT cards that hold their SNAP benefits, only to realize their money is gone. Anderson on Tuesday demanded reimbursements now.
Lakisha Martinez, 50, from the Rockaways, said she went to buy snacks for her grandchildren at the grocery store with her EBT card and was shocked when she went to the register to pay. She swiped her card and the balance was zero.
The amount stolen from Martinez’s SNAP card in July was $900. She uses that money to help support herself and her four grandchildren.
Anderson said his office is getting dozens of calls just like Martinez. He is seeing a troubling spike in benefits fraud, and his constituents are becoming victims of “card skimming.” He says more than 2,200 families could be impacted.
Anderson reached out to city, state and federal agencies for answers this past fall. He said the state agency in charge is the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).
An OTDA spokesperson told PIX11 News:
“OTDA takes seriously any report of benefit theft and continues to work closely with local, state, and federal authorities to provide any information they require that will help bring perpetrators to justice. EBT card users should remain vigilant for this type of theft by reviewing their account for suspicious activity, regularly changing their PIN, and by closely inspecting all retailer terminals for signs of tampering before swiping their card.”
These benefits are a lifeline for low-income New Yorkers like Martinez. So far, Martinez says no money has been reimbursed, and the loss is devastating for her family. On a fixed budget, her holiday is ruined.
Anderson urged people who have similar issues with their benefits to immediately reach out to authorities and contact his office for help.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim should call Mone’t Schultz, the deputy chief of staff for Anderson, at 917-426-6199.