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Hundreds in temporary cash assistance theft adds to Baltimore mom's struggle

Posted at 6:20 PM, Feb 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-06 18:28:38-05

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore mom fell on hard times and waited to be approved for temporary cash assistance then someone stole the money she received less than an hour after it was deposited into her account.

It triggered a chain reaction of consequences.

"It doesn't make sense," she said.

After rolling into 2023 facing hardship, she couldn't have predicted grieving the loss of the father of her 4 children and losing her job.

She turned to the Department of Social Services for temporary cash assistance unaware another struggle, also beyond her control, loomed.

"They approved me for the benefits and told me they'd be on my card the next day," she remembered.

By Friday, she was approved for more than $1,200 to help her with rent, and other daily expenses.

"When I got up the next morning and checked the card to get everything done, the balance was only $12," she recalled.

That money, all taken in 3 separate withdrawals out of Florida, she found.

They were at 1:24am, 1:36am and the last at 1:38am that morning in less than 15 minutes all together from a bank in Palm Beach, Florida.

"Once I got the address, I googled it, and it was a Wells Fargo," she said.

"I expected them to say well okay let's get down to it. Let's look into the account, see where the transactions are were made and lets get you your money back," said the mom.

But her expectation was far from reality.

"They're basically telling me there's nothing they can do, that they don't return the funds or anything like that so I'm just SOL," she continued.

It all happened as her bills kept piling up.

"It's still a waiting process for me to even to come up with the money again. Ain't no telling how long that's going to take so most likely I'll be facing eviction.

She's learned since going through this process, others in her circle have also had the same exact issue worrying they could be socio-economic targets.

"I feel like we're the people that's being targeted because they look at us like low class. They don't need it anyway," shared the mom.

Her situation is certainly a part of a larger story here.

As of December 29th, last year, Maryland families reported losing nearly $1.7 million in stolen SNAP and Temporary Cash Assistance' benefits in 2022.

None of those funds have been reimbursed.

The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) prohibits the Department of Human Services from commenting on individual customer cases; however, they responded to our inquiry saying:

"The Department recognizes the impact that EBT fraud has had on families across the nation and is committed to finding solutions.

It’s important to note that the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was passed on December 29, 2022, stipulates that states may now replace stolen SNAP benefits with federal funds. Our Department is working towards implementing the replacement of stolen SNAP benefits in accordance with federal program guidelines as swiftly as possible. Each state must develop and submit a State Plan to the USDA prior to them approving a state’s reimbursement of stolen SNAP benefits. Our Department, along with all states, is receiving guidance from the USDA regarding the criteria required to submit a State Plan.

Our Department is continuing to explore solutions for all Maryland families who have been affected by EBT fraud, including Temporary Cash Assistance clients, so that we may assist them moving forward."