Cracking down on food stamp trafficking in Rockingham County

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- Rockingham County’s Program Integrity Unit is trying to crack down on food stamp trafficking, meaning food stamps are sold for money or to buy non-food items.

Investigators in the unit say about one-third of their calls are of reports of people who misuse food stamps.

“They tell you, ‘I will purchase your groceries with my EBT card’ and say for instance your groceries are $200, ‘You only have to give me $100 cash,’” said Wendy Yates, an investigator for the program.

Officials are urging grocery and convenient stores to be on alert for any possible cases of fraud.

Xpress Mart in Reidsville has a zero tolerance policy for customers who try to buy non-food items with their EBT cards.

“Your EBT is for food items only nothing else,” said store clerk Stephanie Isley. “We just can’t do it. We can’t take that risk.”

Yates says so far one store in Madison has been caught selling non-food items like gas and alcohol to EBT card holders. The store has lost its right to accept EBT payments.

Since 2012, the unit has recovered more than $350,000 from people claiming government benefits they don’t qualify for or that they misuse.