Hawaii food stamp fraud down, recipients up


HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii officials attribute the decline in food stamp fraud to cutbacks in investigator positions.

According to state data, there were 275 disqualifications last fiscal year, a 50 percent drop compared with the same period five years earlier. At the same time, the number of Hawaii residents receiving food stamps has surged 78 percent to nearly 160,000.

State officials say six of 13 investigator positions were lost in 2009, leading to fewer investigations. They also attribute the drop in to changes in the national program that streamlined reporting for welfare recipients but created fewer checkpoints for fraud.

The state is restoring the six positions.

Officials attribute the surge in food stamp recipients to the sluggish economy and rule changes that expanded eligibility.