SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A program meant to feed a need after Hurricane Irma may be being misused.
People in Southwest Miami-Dade have been waiting in long lines to receive help. They’ve waited in lines for hours in the heat and rain, needing food assistance after Irma.
“Man, we lost all our food in our house,” said Larry Thomas. “You know, I have five kids, so definitely was a lot of food that we lost.”
And now people are learning that some are trying to take advantage and scam the system.
“Makes me feel a little angry because you have people that really need food,” said Thomas.
“Shame on you. Shame on you,” said Renita Holmes. “Especially if you’re selling it just to get some extra cash.”
7News uncovered posts from over the weekend on Craigslist, where people are selling tax-payer funded food assistance cards, trying to make money off the disaster.
“They’re giving them the food stamp card, they’re getting them, and then the people are selling it to get money to buy other stuff,” said Maira Ruana. “That’s ridiculous,” replied another woman.
In one post, someone in South Florida is selling a Food for Florida assistance card for $700, claiming the card has $1,300 in benefits on it.
In another post on Craigslist, there’s an ad for a $1,010 card for sale for $900.
“That’s crazy,” said Thomas. “It has me speechless.”
The Department of Children and Families oversees the Food for Florida program.
They declined an on-camera interview but said in a statement, “We take our responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer money very seriously, and we will investigate all instances of potential fraud.”
DCF said anyone found guilty will have to pay the money back and could be disqualified from getting benefits forever. They could even face criminal charges.
7’s Brian Entin called the number listed on one of the posts, but the person who answered didn’t want to talk.
“You’re committing fraud,” said Ruana. “They should get people like that. Police should be involved with people like that and arrest them.”
One woman who applied for assistance on Monday said she isn’t surprised. She said she’s seen it firsthand.
When asked if she had been approached to sell her assistance card, she replied, “Yeah … I’m going like, ‘Are you serious? Are you serious?'”
DCF investigators said they are monitoring Craigslist and social media and will go after anyone selling benefits.
If you’re someone who does qualify and needs the help, they said they’ll be announcing more sites to collect food assistance in the coming days.
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