Monroe County Human Services respond to EBT scams

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — News 8 has an update to a story we first brought you a little over a week ago about how a disabled man learned he was a victim of EBT fraud.

Since that story, we’ve heard from more people in Monroe County who discovered their monthly food benefits have been stolen. And in fact, we’re learning that hundreds of people have been impacted.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello has authorized unlimited overtime for staff at the department of human services to address this issue.

The Monroe County Department of Human Services tells us in the past 10 days, they’ve received over 700 claims due to what they are calling EBT skimming. Staff has been working overtime to address the issue and plan to continue working thru the weekend.

They say its impacting clients all over Western New York including Erie and Niagara counties.

Scammers who steal account info and funds from debit cards have moved on to the cards the government issues to people who receive food stamp or snap benefits.

Angel Martinez says over $400 was taken a week ago. Martinez, who is on disability, says because it was a holiday weekend, he felt helpless.

“So now I’m on disability counting on just a single check every month to have to support myself and also now I have to use that money to support our kids that rely on these food stamps,” Martinez said. “I hope things do get better but for now the damage is done and we are just pretty much struggling.”

Another victim, William Perez, says he learned his benefits were taken last weekend as well when the cashier alerted him.

“She was like ‘Oh, it declined.’ We got another one that’s got to go back. I said what you mean you got another one. She said this is happening to a lot of people,” Perez said.

Perez says a $291 balance was on his snap card and in just a matter of hours this is all that was left.

“Your snap balance is zero dollars and one cent,” an automated voice call said.

A DHS spokesperson says 300 investigations have been completed and replacement benefits have been issued.

While the two men featured tonight say they haven’t had their benefits replaced yet, the man we introduced you to last week, Brian Foster, did get a full reimbursement.

Here’s the key. DHS says it’s important to contact them as soon as you notice something is wrong and monitor your account regularly at (888) 328-6399.

They also advice cardholder to change their pin frequently and inspect the card reading machines, just shake them before using them.

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