OIG investigates reports of SNAP fraud

As part of the OIG's mission to protect Texas taxpayer dollars, the agency investigates fraud allegations against clients receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These benefits assist low-income households that meet specific eligibility requirements in purchasing food through local vendors and retailers.

A federal government grant issued to each state provides the funding for SNAP, while the state administers the program according to federal and state laws and regulations. When clients commit fraud to receive benefits or increase their amount of assistance payments, members of the Benefits Program Integrity (BPI) unit investigate claims and take action to reduce fraud, waste and abuse. 

One factor in determining a client's eligibility for SNAP is household income from all residents. Fraud occurs when applicants purposely underreport this amount, and BPI will investigate to verify income.

An investigation into a Dallas County SNAP client recently found an undisclosed average monthly income of $60,000 from the client's gift card liquidation business and additional income from unemployment. After obtaining subpoenas to access the client's bank information, the investigator verified that from 2016 through 2020, the client earned about $3 million. The client had also fraudulently applied for and received Medicaid benefits. Following referral to the Dallas County district attorney, the client pled guilty in March to the felony charge of securing execution of a document by deception. The client received 30 days of probation, was disqualified from SNAP for 12 months and was ordered to pay $84,351 at the time of sentencing.

Another tactic used to increase SNAP benefits is omitting a household member and their income from an application. Recently, a Hidalgo County client committed fraud when she failed to report her husband or his income on an application, leading to an excessive benefit payment to the family. Another client from Bexar County did not report the father of her children was living in the home, underreporting the total income for the household. Both women have been disqualified from the SNAP program for 12 months and will pay full restitution for their excess benefits. In addition, the Hidalgo County client faced prosecution by the Hidalgo County district attorney and pled guilty to a theft charge. She has been ordered to complete 240 hours of community service, attend the Theft Offender Intervention Educational Program, and will remain under community supervision for ten years.

During the first three quarters of fiscal year 2022, BPI recovered $44,286,967 in SNAP overpayments, completed 410 investigations into SNAP fraud, referred 387 cases for administrative disqualification hearings and turned over 23 cases to county district attorneys for prosecution.

To learn more about BPI's efforts, read the quarterly report on the OIG website.