By Megan Burrell, Marketing –
The use of food stamps in the U.S. has skyrocketed and New Mexico is no exception. One in every five New Mexicans uses food stamps.
In 2013, over $800,000 in food stamp fraud was discovered in New Mexico. The most common occurrences of food stamp fraud in New Mexico happen when citizens lie about family income, marital status and U.S. citizenship. There have also been numerous accounts of people posting ads on Craigslist and status updates on Facebook that they are selling their food stamps for less than face value.
The Flip Side of the Fraud Coin
Unfortunately, food stamp recipients are not the only ones to commit fraud. Joseph Martin Padilla, a food stamp provider for the New Mexico Human Services Department, was recently indicted for creating fraudulent accounts for food stamp cards in 2009 and 2010, with the money going to him and to others conspiring with him. These stolen funds totaled $90,000.
Oftentimes, Padilla would receive about $100 each time he created an account. “I don’t understand how anyone would want to do that,” stated Frank Sherman, the inspector general of New Mexico’s government assistance programs. “Why would you want to jeopardize your career over a couple hundred dollars?”
Beware of Selling Food Stamps Online
The New Mexico Human Services Department (NM HSD) now has a “fraud” Facebook page that displays incidents of welfare fraud in the hopes that people will not feel safe trying to sell their benefits.
The NM HSD is also planning to use software that finds words associated with selling food stamps in Facebook posts. Such status updates will alert the NM HSD, and anyone with such posts will see a warning ad on their Facebook page indicating that selling food stamp benefits is against the law.
Preventative Action: Lie Detection Tests
To prevent food stamp recipients from committing fraud, perhaps it should not be so simple to register for food stamps. With the ease of submitting information online for benefits, it’s no wonder so many people provide false information.
Regarding fraud committed by government employees, the preventative action taken at this point is to audit employees regularly. This is how Padilla was caught, even if it was four years too late. It’s all too tempting for many people in governmental positions to work the system themselves — even for a few hundred dollars.
If food stamp applicants and government employees were required to take a lie detection test, maybe fewer food stamps would be issued to corrupt individuals and fewer corrupt issuers would collect some of the proceeds.
EyeDetect™, a new polygraph alternative, is a lie detector test that is non-intrusive, unbiased and 85 percent accurate. It includes an exam of true or false questions that takes 30-40 minutes to answer on a computer screen, during which pupil dilation and other eye behaviors are monitored during the test to detect deceit far more accurately than even a polygraph test.
Merely searching Facebook and conducting an expensive and work intensive audit every few years may not be the most efficient solution. EyeDetect could be the answer in discovering fraud effectively and quickly.