• Mon. Aug 21st, 2023

Scammers Steal Social Security Benefits From Several Dozen People in Ohio

May 2, 2023
Scammers Steal Social Security Benefits From Several Dozen People in Ohio
Harper Stewart

In the next six months, the amount of theft could reach $320 million.

Theft of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits is on the rise in Ohio. As Haywood Talcove, CEO of the Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions Government Group told Channel 19 Cleveland, attackers could steal up to $320 million from vulnerable Americans in the next six months.

According to the expert, the victims reported several dozen cases of SNAP funds being stolen. For example, the Fleshmans family noticed $414 missing from their card just at the cash register at the grocery store.

Most frequently, criminals use special tools for copying EBT card data (skimmers). After obtaining a copy of the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card data, attackers can withdraw the funds from the card’s copy without the security chip. Criminals then spend the stolen money or sell a copy of the card on the Dark Web. The average price for such cards is about $100.

Spear phishing is another popular way to steal EBT card data. Fraudsters call victims posing as The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees and convince them to give away their card number and PIN.

The scale of the thefts can be catastrophic

As Talcove points out, the scale of the problem can be disastrous. In Ohio alone, 1.5 million people, or 1 in 8, receive SNAP benefits. In general, the state provides $1.6 billion annually in SNAP benefits to those in need.

It is estimated that in the next 6 months, the amount of money stolen could reach $320 million. The police try to investigate the thefts, but usually without success, so law enforcers just ask citizens to stay vigilant. Experts recommend using cards only in major retail chains, changing the PIN every month, and ignoring calls and letters received by the USDA.