Remember last month when EBT cards in Louisiana showed no limits? Remember how all of those EBT users had a chaos-fueled shopping spree and emptied store shelves within hours? Remember how that one woman with only 49 cents left on her card tried to leave with $700 worth of food?

Well, the governor of Louisianna remembers too, and he has taken the unprecedented move of canceling the benefits cards for every person suspect of participating in the fraudulent free-for-all.

… Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s office will cancel food stamp benefits for anyone who participated in a fraud and shopping spree catalyzed by an EBT malfunction.

More than 12,000 people were sent an insufficient funds notice when the problem with the EBT cards was fixed on Oct. 12; those who transgressed may lose their EBT cards for a year.

Suzy Sonnier, the secretary of state at the Department of Children and Family Services, released a statement saying: “We must protect the program for those who receive and use their benefits appropriately according to the law. We are looking at each case individually, addressing those recipients who are suspected of misrepresenting their eligibility for benefits or defrauding the system.” (source)

It all started on October 12, when technical problems plagued the EBT system across the country. 17 states were affected. Most of the benefits recipients couldn’t use their cards at all, causing mini-riots across the country when they were unable to buy food for their families. Within a few days, the USDA had sent notices to the states ordering them to freeze SNAP funds as a contingency plan because of the government shutdown. Meanwhile, in a few places in Louisiana, the EBT malfunction caused the cards to show no limit, and many stores allowed users to shop anyway.

And shop they did. Even though the accepted policy is to allow benefits recipients to purchase $50 worth of groceries in the event that cards malfunction, many stores did not limit purchases. Grocery carts were filled with reckless abandon and users gleefully left the stores with hundreds of dollars worth of ill-gotten supplies.

It looks like dishonesty was not the best policy, however.
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