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Georgia Welfare Dollars Spent at Casinos, Liquor Stores, Six Flags

• May 14, 2012 4:54 pm

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Taxpayer-funded welfare money is being spent in strip clubs, liquor stores, and other inappropriate locations, NBC Atlanta reports:

REPORTER: $50 million handed out to needy Georgians last year—that is federal money administered by the state. But when you see what we uncovered, you may think no one is keeping an eye on it—but we are.

REPORTER: From strip joints… to casinos… to liquor stores, places where your tax dollars meant to help needy families are being pulled out of ATMs and purchases are being made. How? On a card like this. It works like an ATM or debit car; the money comes from the federal government but the state administers the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, handing out as much as $568 a month on each card.

ANN CARTER: Providing for basic assistance—their food, clothing, housing.

REPORTER: You see the signs everywhere, where EBT cards are accepted, and after spending weeks analyzing 852,000 transactions, the numbers really added up: $148,948.36 redeemed in liquor stores, more than $4,500 at tobacco shops, $920 at out-of-state casinos like Harrah’s in North Carolina, and more than $5,600 was even redeemed at Six Flags here in Georgia. Getting access to the cash is important and the cards can be used at ATMs. Why would they come to places like this to redeem their cards? The $140 redeemed at this Atlanta strip club, Club Wax, we couldn’t follow the people around to see how they were spending the cash, so we tried to verify some of the transactions. $97,609.08 redeemed at Jaxx’s Beer in Albany.

ROBERT: No cameras.

REPORTER: Robert is the manager and at first, didn’t want us here, but started to answer our questions.

ROBERT: These people don’t buy anything. They come in, we charge them $2, they get EBT and leave.

REPORTER: There’s an ATM on-site but you can’t get change out of an ATM, so what about these EBT card transactions at Jaxx: $78.41 and $48.29, to name a few. Clearly, these weren’t ATM transactions. He’s adamant alcohol is not purchased. He takes us to the back to verify the transactions on the computer system. The very first one he checks? $16.97 from Feb. 2 of last year.

ROBERT: EBT, that’s the one.

REPORTER: Vodka.

ROBERT: That’s unusual.

REPORTER: Vodka. He has to go, but promises to check a couple more pages of transactions for us.

ROBERT: I’m going to look up some of them and I’ll call you.

REPORTER: We never heard back from him.

REPORTER: An internal investigation is now underway into what we found, Karyn.

ANCHOR: How could this possibly happen with that much money and no one at the Dept. of Health noticed it?

REPORTER: That’s the million-dollar question that we’re asking. This is information that is in the database, so we’re wondering why their auditors missed it.

Published under: Federal Bureaucracy, Video, Welfare