The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the food stamp program in Texas. In the old days, people received paper stamps to use when buying food. Now, benefits are loaded electronically onto debit cards.
But fraud remains the same. It is illegal under Texas Human Resources Code Section 33.011 to seek or obtain benefits you are not entitled to. If you’ve been accused of food stamp fraud, you need to contact an experienced Houston fraud lawyer.
What Is Food Stamp Fraud?
There are several types of fraud under the law. It is illegal to:
- Knowingly use, transfer, or alter a SNAP transfer card in an illegal manner. This is a Class A misdemeanor if the value is less than $200 and a third-degree felony if the value is $200 or more.
- Knowingly possess a SNAP transfer card when not authorized by law or knowingly use or redeem one for an unauthorized reason. This is also a class A misdemeanor if less than $200 or a third-degree felony if $200 or more
Examples of food stamp fraud consist of:
- Applying for benefits using someone else’s name or forging their signature
- Filing multiple applications at more than one location
- Lying about the number of dependents you have
- Making false statements to obtain, retain, or increase benefits
- Failing to report changes in income, employment, disability, or other eligibility information
What Other Laws Apply to Food Stamp Fraud?
Someone who commits welfare fraud might also violate other laws:
- Forgery. You can’t sign someone else’s name to an application. If you do, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges based on the value of benefits obtained.
- Perjury. Applicants must attest under penalty of perjury that the information in their application is accurate to the best of their knowledge. Defendants could face time in jail for intentionally lying.
- Identity theft. A person might use someone else’s Social Security Number to apply for benefits. This is illegal.
To keep criminal charges from snowballing, you should quickly reach out to a Houston fraud attorney for assistance.
Can You End Up in Jail for Food Stamps Fraud?
Yes. Of course, there are many factors that come into play, such as your criminal history and the extent of the fraud. Two Texas women recently received prison terms in 2022 for food stamp fraud. Combined, they defrauded the program of $1.2 million. Investigators uncovered a scheme where the two women used a point-of-sale device at a meat market to convert food stamps into cash. The women were also ordered to pay back the money as restitution.
Few people will participate in a fraudulent scheme so widespread. Nevertheless, the state can hit you with felony charges for as little as $200 in fraudulently obtained or used benefits.
Call Tad Nelson Today
This is a tough time economically. Many people might feel tempted to apply for benefits they don’t really qualify for. If you face fraud charges, give our firm a call or send a message. We can advise you of your rights and represent you before a judge.