BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- The report released by the LePage administration shows more than 3,000 questionable EBT transactions at local bars, smoke shops and strip clubs. The governor is using the findings to claim welfare fraud is a large issue in the state. The study looked at the temporary assistance for needy families program. When those numbers are put in a larger context some people question the information and what it really shows.
Since January 2012, the report shows 3,701 questionable EBT transactions at various bars and venues. It may seem like a lot, but in that same time there are roughly 50,000 EBT transactions a month that is more than a million card swipes. Therefore three tenths of one percent are in question.
DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said, "Fraud is fraud. Misuse of a program should matter regardless of what percentage it may represent in the total number of transactions. It's money that is being taken away from children who depend on their parents to support them with these basic necessities. That should be the focal point of this discussion."
Commissioner Mayhew says DHHS continues to look at ways to stop fraud and make sure those people who need the help the most receive it.
It is important to note, the questionable EBT card transactions did not occur at the registers but rather the ATMs available in the bars, strip clubs, and pubs noted in the report.