Mass., Local Police Vow Crackdown On Welfare Fraud

 Updated April 11, 2013, 4:30 pm

State officials and local police chiefs are promising to work together to clamp down on abuse of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards used by welfare recipients.

Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz said Thursday the state will share data with police to identify and take action against retailers selling liquor or other items prohibited for purchase with the cards.

Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes said the partnership between police and the Department of Transitional Assistance will help to address an “enforcement gap” in welfare fraud.

“In the past it’s something that, to be really quite honest, it’s been happening under the radar,” Kyes said. “So now that we can join forces together I think we can really have a strong proactive effort to really go after these individuals who violate the law.”

Investigations by the state inspector general and others have pointed to possibly millions of dollars in fraud.

House lawmakers have proposed requiring photo IDs for the electronic cards, but Polanowicz said Thursday that would not be cost effective.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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