DES recoups $2.1M related to fraudulent food stamp, unemployment benefits

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX – The Department of Economic Security has recouped $2.1 million in fines, fees and restitution related to food stamp and unemployment fraud during the past year.

Eighty-seven food stamp recipients have been barred from participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for one year or more, including four lifetime disqualifications. They were ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution and overpayments.

Officials said 122 people have been convicted of unemployment fraud. Seven of them were sentenced to jail time and 71 were placed on probation. The restitution, fines and fees total more than $1.1 million. In addition, many were ordered to perform community service, totaling 5,271 hours.

"Our intention is to continue to prevent fraud from entering Arizona's safety net system at the initial stage and throughout the ongoing process of the delivery of benefits, goods and services," Director Clarence H. Carter said. "By eliminating fraudulent activities during the receipt of benefits, DES can mitigate losses to Arizona through quick detection, ongoing prevention and vigorous prosecution efforts."