EBT misuse increasing across state, DHHS says

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- An increasing number of the roughly 225,000 EBT card users are misusing the cards, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Misuse can include trading them for drugs, selling the cards and using cards that don't belong to them.

The Penobscot County Sheriff's Office is investigating a case right now, but couldn't provide any more details.

Last year, DHHS saw 226 complaints of EBT misuse. Through June of this year, it has had 302 complaints, a 33 percent increase from last year's total after just six months.

That increase does not just include cases involving drugs, but DHHS says it has seen an increase in this activity, as well as several more high profile cases.

Law enforcement agents found a drug dealer with seven EBT cards at a bust last week in South Thomaston.

Cracking down on this misuse is a priority for Governor LePage, who's been outspoken about it in the past.

DHHS is on board too, writing in a statement, "The Governor and this Administration is committed to doing all that it can to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent and deter trafficking of cards. This includes placing photographs on EBT cards and adding language to the card that clearly states that selling benefits on the EBT card is a crime."

Those photos have been required on EBT cards in Bangor since late April. That requirement was expanded statewide earlier this month.


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