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Food stamp black market on the rise: SNAP-for-cash big business

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The black market for food stamps — where recipients sell the federal vouchers for cash — has grown by 30 percent in recent years, the Agriculture Department said in a just-released study.

The findings were discovered after the feds initiated a "covert investigation" in stores, and compared the time periods of 2006-2008 with 2009-2011. The results: Sales of food stamps for cash have dramatically risen, Fox News reported.

In figures, sales of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program vouchers brought in $858 million in cash in the 2009-2011 period, compared to $330 million in the 2006-2008 time frame. The Agriculture Department said the increased cash sales activity reflects the rise in SNAP participation in recent years.

Program participants sell their benefits at a discount, mostly to small grocery or convenience stores, the department said.

The study also found that just under 11 percent of all authorized stores took part in the trafficking in the 2009-11 time period, compared to only a bit more than 8 percent from 2006 to 2008.

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