InvestigatorsMatter for Mallory


State lawmakers schedule hearing on stolen benefits & SNAP enrollment issues

Posted at 5:49 PM, Aug 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-15 19:35:09-04

BALTIMORE — State lawmakers plan to hold a hearing on stolen federal assistance benefits and enrollment issues.

From January 1 through July 31, Maryland families reported losing $344,000 in SNAP and Temporary Cash Assistance to scammers. In 2021, the Maryland Department of Human Services said $92,500 was reported stolen.

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii has extensively reported on this issue and how other jurisdictions are reimbursing victims. The Maryland Department of Human Services is not.

A spokeswoman said states are not allowed to replace stolen benefits with federal funds and there are no state funds appropriated to reimburse victims of this or other types of fraud.

RELATED: Victims, lawmakers critical of Maryland’s response to stolen benefits

During a news conference on the Inflation Reduction Act on Monday, Sofastaii asked Senate President Bill Ferguson what lawmakers plan to do about this issue.

“Thank you for your coverage of this issue. I think it has been unfortunately one of the undertold stories of what we are seeing happen as part of the post-pandemic,” Ferguson said. “What we know is that these are the most vulnerable families in Maryland and it’s unacceptable what we are seeing happen with their benefit acquisition and the money stolen from them. We should be doing more events like this targeting our low and moderate income families, less hearings required for what it seems like government has failed to uphold its end of the bargain to make sure those who need it get what they need to survive.”

The hearing is scheduled for September 20 in the Senate Finance Committee.

Katherine Morris, communications director for the Maryland Department of Human Services, sent Sofastaii the statement below in response to Ferguson’s announcement.

“I am not aware of any hearing regarding SNAP/TCA fraud or recertification issues. However, I can confirm that today the Finance Committee invited the Department of Human Services to join them at a briefing on September 20 to discuss any drop in SNAP or TCA program enrollment. DHS leadership will be in attendance and looks forward to joining members of the committee for this discussion.”

Sofastaii also contacted the Governor’s Office. This story will be updated with their response.

If you’re the victim of this crime, you’re encouraged to apply for emergency cash assistance through the Consumer Portal or by visiting any of the 24 local Departments of Social Services, and by calling 1-800-332-6347 (TTY 1-800-735-2258).

And contact your local elected officials. You can find their information by clicking here. Type in your address under the "lookup" tab and you'll have the option to email all the checked legislators.

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