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Mass., Feds To Announce Agreement On SNAP Fraud

A new agreement will allow state welfare officials and local law enforcement to investigate allegations of trafficking in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits.

State officials, including Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz, plan to announce the agreement on Monday with James Arena-Derosa, the Northeast administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food and nutrition service.

The federal SNAP program was formerly known as food stamps.

"The majority of that trafficking actually happens at small convenience stores and local shops. We don't see it as much at the big supermarkets," Polanowicz said.

Officials say the agreement will strengthen program integrity and protect benefits for those who need them. It stems from an action plan developed by the state Department of Transitional Assistance earlier this year after reports that pointed to widespread fraud and waste in public benefits program.

Polanowicz said the new restrictions have led to a dramatic decrease in requests for electronic benefit transfer (EBT) replacement cards, which are associated with welfare fraud.

"We really want to address any of these issues around fraud and abuse, because any of that abuse takes away from the services and the supports that the people who actually need these programs should be getting," Polanowicz said.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom.

This program aired on July 28, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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