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If you are reading this article on penalties for Food Stamp fraud in Georgia, you probably fall into one of five categories:
- You have reported food stamp fraud to the authorities in Georgia and are wondering what the possible penalties and punishments are if the person you filed the complaint against is found guilty.
- You have committed food stamps fraud (lied on your application, sold your benefits for cash, helped someone commit fraud) and are wondering what is going to happen to you.
- You have committed food stamp fraud but have not been caught and are wondering what the possible punishment would be if you are ever caught.
- You are an EBT retailer, have committed food stamp fraud and want to know what will happen should you be arrested.
- You are a concerned citizen, have heard about abuse and fraud in the food stamps program in the state of Georgia or across the country in general and are curious about penalties and punishment for those caught for fraud.
Regardless of your reason, we are going to answer your question. In the meantime, If you have witnessed Food Stamps fraud or are suspicious of fraudulent activity, you can report this to the authorities for investigation. See our detailed article on how to do that.
Food Stamps Recipient Fraud
If you are currently on food stamps and have committed fraud or are wondering what the penalties are for fraud, here is what you need to know.
First, what the state will do depends on the extent of your crime, how much money you received that you were not entitled to and whether you are a repeat offender. If you have already been contacted by the authorities, you should probably consult a lawyer immediately. Here are the penalties for fraud according to the state of Georgia:
Georgia for Food Stamp Fraud Penalties
If you are caught committing food stamp fraud as a benefit recipient, here are the penalties you could face:
- First time offenders are disqualified for one year (12 months).
- Second time offenders are disqualified for two years (24 months).
- Third time offenders are disqualified permanently.
In addition, an individual will be ineligible to participate in the Food Stamp Program for 10 years if the individual is found to have made a fraudulent statement or representation of identity or residence in order to receive multiple benefits simultaneously.
In more serious cases of fraud, the agency (whichever government agency investigated the case, whether Federal, State or County) may pursue misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. Jail time varies by state, but range from up to one year in jail and a substantial fine for the first offense, to up to five years in prison, several years of probation or an even bigger fine for subsequent offenses.
Most counties want to recover their money, so if this is your first-time offense, you may get probation time so that the restitution to the government can be repaid, like this case in Gwinnett County, GA. You will also likely be disqualified from receiving further government benefits for a period of time.
Note: This is not an Attorney website, and we are not attorneys and don’t play one online, so if you are in trouble with the law, you should get a criminal defense attorney to help and advice you.
If you are an EBT Retailer and have committed fraud and have been contacted by authorities, you should probably get a lawyer. The government has been cracking down on retailer fraud, a larger percentage of which happens within small grocery and convenience stores. Based on recent high profile arrests by Federal Authorities of EBT retailers for fraud in Savannah, Macon, Atlanta, Garden City, Lithonia, LaGrange, Stone Mountain, and Riverdale, you may want to talk to a lawyer.