Oregon to reimburse SNAP benefits lost to skimming fraud

PORTLAND, Ore. — Starting later this month, Oregon will begin replacing SNAP or food stamp benefits stolen due to skimming fraud. Until now, the state has declined to reimburse low-income families.

“There was nothing they could do,” said Wilsonville resident Ashlee Umberger. Her SNAP benefits were stolen last year, but she said the Oregon Department of Human Services wouldn’t give her a refund.

A KGW investigation documented how fraudsters have been wiping out food stamp benefits from low-income Oregonians, due in part to a missing security feature on EBT cards.

“Why would you take from the poorest of people?” asked Umberger.

Since the initial report in January, KGW has heard from nearly a dozen people who lost SNAP or food stamp benefits due to fraud.

“It made me sick,” said Nancy Kjenslee of Gresham. The 77-year-old lost roughly $2,000 in SNAP benefits last December.

In October, the USDA issued a nationwide warning about SNAP fraud in which thieves use “card skimming” to steal SNAP benefits.

Fraudsters are stealing the food stamp benefits by secretly installing devices on ATM readers that copy the card numbers and pin numbers and send them back to the thieves — who then create fake cards and drain accounts.

This so-called “skimming” can be devastating to households already struggling to make ends meet, especially because states like Oregon have declined to reimburse victims.

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