Tuesday, the governor’s office released startling new data they say proves that welfare fraud in Maine is a big problem.
According to data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services, Electronic Benefit Transfer Cards (EBT) issued in Maine have been used in 46 other states.
The data also shows that EBT cards have been used in thousands of smoke shops, bars, sports pubs and even strip clubs including Diamonds in Bangor.
According to a statement released by the governor’s office:
“Data released shows that since January 1, 2012 more than 3,000 transactions were made at more than 22 “smoke shops” in Maine, which sell primarily cigarettes and other tobacco products. There are several examples of individuals using their EBT cards to spend hundreds of dollars at a time at liquor stores in Maine. One liquor store in New Hampshire had more than a thousand transactions totaling nearly $8,000.
There are nearly 650 transactions at retail establishments that sell primarily alcohol, such as bars and sports pubs. The data also shows that EBT cards were used at strip clubs in Maine. Transactions using cash benefits at these locations are prohibited under state and federal law.
EBT Cards issued in Maine have been used in all 50 states. There are examples of Maine benefits being used in 46 states by individuals that had been out of Maine for over a year.”
Transactions using cash benefits at these locations are prohibited under state and federal law.
Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves had this reaction:
“No one wants to see funds meant for struggling families abused. State law already forbids EBT cards from being used at liquor stores. If this list is verified, it’s time to take action,” said Speaker Eves. “The question for the governor is will he prosecute or politicize it? Democrats will continue to support good-faith efforts to crack down on fraud and abuse.”
Governor LePage calls the numbers “eye opening” and asks anyone who knows about welfare fraud to call the fraud hotline at: