You work hard to support and raise your family in California, but sometimes, hard work is not enough to put enough food on the table. Thankfully, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps pick up the slack. But what if SNAP is not always enough? 

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities defines SNAP fraud and explains efforts to prevent it. Learn how the program defines fraud to both avoid it and determine if you may be guilty of it. 

Types of SNAP fraud  

If you have ever traded your SNAP benefits for cash to buy something other than food, that is an example of fraud. This type of fraud involves both SNAP recipients and stores that are part of the program. 

Another example of fraud for this federal program is being dishonest to either qualify for SNAP benefits or get more benefits than your household qualifies for. This also applies both to households and SNAP retailers. 

Stopping SNAP fraud 

In regard to how officials work to combat fraud, they refer any suspicious activity to the state fraud unit. The program also enlists the aid of the public, making it easy for citizens to report suspected SNAP fraud. 

The suspicion of fraud does not always equate to the existence of intentional misdeed; in many cases, investigations do not turn up the existence of fraud. For instances where evidence reveals that you committed potential fraud, you would have an opportunity to plead your case, potentially with the advice of a legal professional. 

Penalties for SNAP fraud   

If a court finds you guilty of fraud for the first time, you can become disqualified from the program for 12 months. Additionally, you may have to repay the ill-gotten gains. Penalties increase for subsequent fraud or intentional violations. 

It is possible to commit SNAP fraud unintentionally. Take care that you review the rules carefully and follow them when on this program.