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USDA Targets Stores in Food Stamp Trafficking

By: AP
By: AP

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is
upgrading technology used to combat a swindle of the nation's $64.7
billion food stamp program that diverts as much as $330 million
annually.

The agency last month awarded a 10-year contract worth up to $25
million to a Fairfax, Va. company, SRA International Inc., to
improve monitoring of electronic food stamp transactions.

In all, 45 million people use the stamps to buy food from 234,000
retailers.

The goal is to decrease food stamp trafficking, where retailers
trade customers lesser amounts of cash for stamps.

Authorities say the stamps are then redeemed as usual by merchants at face value, netting them huge profits.

The practice is a federal criminal offense.

Authorities say the crime has brought 597 convictions nationwide and recovery of $197.4 million since 2008.


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