USDA Food Stamp Trafficking and SNAP Violation Enforcement

In 2017, we have every reason to expect increased USDA enforcement against fraudulent EBT transactions.

Under U.S. Code Chapter 51 and the Code of Federal Regulations Part 278, the government has authority to permanently disqualify you from engaging in EBT transactions, putting an end to SNAP benefits as a form of revenue for your business.

At risk are owners of gas stations, convenience stores, and specialty stores.

As we described in our article on defense strategies for SNAP retailers, the USDA released a report revealing that it is actively investigating small retailers, including gas stations, convenience stores, and specialty grocery stores, for SNAP violations.

What is food stamp trafficking?

The term "trafficking" is quite broad in scope, but in these cases generally refers to fraudulent EBT transactions, which includes exchanging food stamp benefits for cash to the customer, rather than eligible food.

Under Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, only authorized retailers can exchange "eligible food" for food stamps. Eligible food does not include alcohol, cigarettes, and pre-prepared convenience foods.

In practice, a fraudulent EBT transaction might look like this:

  • Your cashier swipes a customer's EBT card for $100 in SNAP benefits and in exchange hands over $50 in cash to the customer from the register.

Ultimately, a series of transactions like this will result in unbalanced accounting and will likely invite the USDA's attention in the form of a charge letter.

A word of warning: There are many types of violations under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Any food stamp trafficking offense or other SNAP violation - even if just one - can lead to permanent disqualification (among other penalties), and we have every reason to expect that this will happen to many small business owners in 2017 and beyond.

We can advise you anywhere in the country.

We are Roberts Law Group based in North Carolina, handling SNAP violation cases throughout the country. Much of this work can be done exclusively by phone and email, which means that even if your store is located outside North Carolina, you can still get our help.

When it comes to SNAP cases, we help our clients in everything from defense to compliance to federal appeals. Preserve your business and prevent from being disqualified from doing EBT transactions.

Learn more about EBT and SNAP law below, then call 866-630-2389.

North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.