Possible disaster food stamp abuse? - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Possible disaster food stamp abuse?

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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Earlier this week we told you about potential abuses of the emergency food stamp system in Pender County. Since then, we've had several calls and emails about potential abuse in Brunswick and New Hanover counties.

Christine McNamee, from the New Hanover County Division of Social Services, said there are strict criteria to qualify for the emergency food stamp assistance if someone doesn't normally qualify for food stamps. To qualify, she said, the amount someone lost in food and income from not being able to go to work during the storm must place them at least 200% below the poverty line.

Because the government wanted to get money to people right away, McNamee said, people didn't have to fill out a lot of paperwork.

"The whole idea of the disaster relief SNAP program is that people are in a crisis. They've been through a storm and the federal government does not ask that they fill out a lot of paperwork," she said.

As of right now, New Hanover County DSS has gotten a few calls and emails about people abusing the program, but they have not been specific enough for the department to follow up on any of them.

"If we hear through anonymous phone calls or other sources that it's incorrect, or if the federal government when they do their audits finds that the information given was incorrect, then that person would be required to repay all the benefits and it could go up through criminal court," she said.

If you have information about someone who has abused disaster relief money from the state, you're asked to call DSS at 910-739-3400. You may remain anonymous.

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