Two Idaho convenience stores are banned from participating in the Food Stamp program after investigations revealed they were providing cash, alcohol, gas and cigarettes to customers using Food Stamp benefits. It is against the law for grocery retailers to charge anything but food in the Food Stamp program.
Investigators from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigated the retailers. DHW Fraud Investigator Chad Christensen investigated the Jiffy Mart, 160 Elm St in Idaho Falls, and Fraud Investigator Dwayne Sanders investigated the Jay Mart, 1522 State St. in Boise. The retail stores were given notice by the USDA that they have been banned for life from accepting Food Stamp benefits for payment of groceries. Several Food Stamp recipients involved in the illegal behavior also were identified and sanctioned from the Food Stamp program. The Boise Jay Mart store has appealed the USDA sanction.
During 2008, Jiffy Mart in Idaho Falls completed $15,475 in food stamp transactions and Jay Mart completed $49,660 worth of Food Stamp sales. It is unknown how much of these amounts involved fraudulent transactions.
With the recent economic conditions, enrollments in Food Stamps have increased substantially in Idaho. State and Federal agencies are working closely to ensure Food Stamp benefits are being properly used for people who really need assistance. Anyone suspecting public assistance fraud is encouraged to call the toll-free Idaho Fraud Hotline at 1-866-635-7515.
(Editors: For more information, please contact DHW Public Information Officer Tom Shanahan at 208-334-0668.)