retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Associated Press reports that food stamp fraud - in which retailers exchange lesser amounts of cash for food stamps, and then redeem the stamps for full value, diverting more than $300 million a year in public money into their own pockets - has resulted in close to 600 convictions and almost $200 million in fines ands restitution over the past three years.

While food stamp fraud continues to be a problem, the story says, “federal investigators, wise to the practice, are closely monitoring thousands of convenience stories and mom-and-pop groceries in a push to halt the fraud.”

The story continues: “Nationwide, 234,000 stores are authorized to accept food stamps, including 35,000 supermarkets where 85 percent of benefits are redeemed ... Last year, 931 stores nationally were dismissed from the food stamp program for trafficking and 907 others were sanctioned for lesser violations — 37 percent of the nearly 5,000 retailers being investigated. A March USDA report found more than 8 percent of the large and small stores, 210,000 in all, allowed people to cash in their benefits between 2006 and 2008.”
KC's View:
Hang ‘em high. Tar and feather ‘em. Flogging, perhaps? While $300 million isn’t even real money by federal government standards, I think some equivalent of the public stockade seems appropriate in this case.