Cyber criminals have targeted Hawaii’s most vulnerable residents with an attack on the state’s nutritional and financial assistance programs. Hawaii families counting on food stamps, also known as SNAP benefits, have been victimized by hackers who emptied their accounts. In a public announcement, the Hawaiian Department of Human Services shared everything they know. Which isn’t much. On November 3, 2023, about 230 SNAP benefit recipients lost nearly all the money in their account. All of them are on Oahu. That’s it folks. That’s all the facts DHS had to share. The rest of the announcements is speculations and suggestions.
What we know is that Hawaii is the most expensive state for groceries, according to recent data from Move.org. And for single parents this is hardship. Many of these families went to the processing centers and waited hours hoping at least to get some of the benefits back. There is no guarantee that will happen.
As of November 6, 2023, DHS was still not clear how the thieves were able to access their system. It could be a result of hacking, cloning, phishing or even skimming. The options are endless. Trista Speer, deputy director at DHS is urging individuals to protect themselves to the extent possible. Don’t expect the benefit programs to do it. Speer is asking account holders to check their balance regularly. And if anything is missing, then go to one of the processing centers to have the benefits replaced. WHERE YOU CAN WAIT ALL DAY.
DHS said they believe that it’s happening in different parts of the country. At a record high. Fraud is apparently gobbling up one-fifth of SNAP benefits. And it looks like Congress doesn’t have any solutions to prevent it.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article ”Online scammers target EBT recipients causing them to lose hundreds of dollars in food stamps” published by KITV Island News on November 6, 2023.
Dozens of Oahu residents who rely on the Hawaii State’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) said they were hacked. Now, they are out hundreds of dollars in food stamps. The issue has been circling around social media. Recipients said it is preventing them from buying food.
A Kaneohe resident who asked to remain anonymous told Island News she lost more than $1,700 in a matter of minutes. She said she receives a little more than $2,000 a month in snap benefits for her family of six and now has less than $300 left.