Mississippi Department of Human Services cracks down on SNAP-EBT fraud

A Jones County woman faces jail time after reports of SNAP (EBT) fraud on Friday, Sept. 16.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:49 PM CDT

JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - A Jones County woman faces jail time after reports of SNAP (EBT) fraud on Friday, Sept. 16.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) said it’s cracking down on fraudulent activity.

“We know that families are struggling, so we know that SNAP, MDHS understands that SNAP is for many that lifeline to help their families get through each day,” said Mark Jones, MDHS Chief Communications Officer.

One item after another increases a grocery bill. Once receipts are printed, it can be a headache to see just how much you’ve spent.

“We’re finding that with grocery prices, with inflation, and students having been at home through the summer, coming out of the summer, we’ve seen the need request for (SNAP EBT, aka food stamps) applications,” said Jones.

This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted a nearly 10% price increase on all foods. However, Jones said the state understands this program is vital for families who qualify.

“In order to be eligible for SNAP, you must meet the economic thresh hold,” Jones said. “Secondly, you’ll have to conclude several components of the application, which would include some submission of some financial documents.”

For example, a family of two’s monthly income can not exceed $1,888 before taxes; after taxes, it shouldn’t be more than $1,452.

"In order to be eligible for SNAP, you must meet the economic thresh hold," said Mark Jones,...
"In order to be eligible for SNAP, you must meet the economic thresh hold," said Mark Jones, MDHS Chief of Communications officer.(wdam)

While SNAP benefits are geared to help families, some people may take advantage. For example, just last week, Tiffany Combest of Jones County pleaded guilty to thousands of dollars in SNAP fraud.

“This case in Jones County, they misreported the makeup of their home,” said Jones.

MDHS reported that Combest received $30,014 in food stamp benefits between August 2015 and October 2020.

Combest will serve three years in Mississippi Department of Corrections custody, with 12 months on house arrest, and the two additional years will be based on her participation in a community service program.

“Last year, we had out of an average of over 400,000 per month, we had about 2,699 fraud cases,” said Jones. “So by the numbers, we’re cooping a little over three and a half million dollars out of the $700 or $800 million in SNAP benefits that we’ve provided.”

Jones said failing to report household income size is just one of many examples of fraudulent activity. There is also trafficking of benefits, which is simply trading benefits for cash or allowing someone else to use your card.

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