Monroe County hit by food stamp thefts

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – There’s a scam affecting people nationwide who get food stamps.

The cards loaded up with such benefits are being targeted by skimming devices – aimed at stealing money right out of your account.

“Food insecurities is one of the biggest issues we have here in our community,” said Thalia Wright, commissioner of Monroe County’s Department of Human Services.

More than 60,000 people in Monroe County depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to put food on their table. Dozens who rely on that help have come into Wright’s office this week to report that they’re missing benefits.

“I was talking to our deputy commissioner and she was telling us about an individual that came into our office yesterday, and as they were looking at her benefits in real-time they could see the skimming occurring,” Wright said.

That skimming is happening nationwide. Devices are planted on card readers found on ATMs and in most stores. They collect the data stored on your cards, used by thieves to wipe out your account. Wright says this crime targets the most vulnerable.

“So being able to have SNAP and those benefits to assist, it’s important that these families have it at this point, especially when that’s what they depend on, and, you know, our benefits are issued on a month-to-month basis,” Wright said.

DHS is working to help those whose benefits fell short this month. If you’ve been victimized, contact the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance right away – and then the county.

“Unfortunately, once the fraud occurs, they have to fill out an application. They have to come into our office at 691 St. Paul St. They have to be issued a new benefits card, and they have to be issued a new PIN,” Wright said.

Since these benefits are provided by the federal government, the feds are the ones investigating.