EBT cards found for sale on Craigslist as many seek food assistance

Posted at 7:34 PM, Oct 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-16 19:34:16-04

Thousands of people are still searching for hurricane relief, creating long line and security issues waiting for public benefits across the state.

“I came in at 5 o'clock [am] and the line went through another plaza,” Jessy Flores told ABC Action News.

Flores did not have to evacuate but says she was without power and lost a lot of food because of it.

“We did lose power, we lost like $350 worth of food,” Flores said.

As a Puerto Rico native, Flores also had to help her out-of-state family come to Florida after Irma and Maria impacted to US Territory. 

Still, no fast-pass for the Food for Florida lines in Lakeland, as most of the applicants are desperate for relief.

“5 to 7 hours wait time,” John Henceroth, a father to two young boys said.

Henceroth monitored the lines for the Lakeland benefits site and waited until it was just a 30 minutes wait to get in line.

“Try to come in on Sunday but they were saying the lines were a couple miles long,” he said

Henceroth says that it cost his family about $1,000 to flee Florida for a week.

When his family returned to their powerless home - the food had gone bad.

The same thing happened to Flores and her roommates.

“It was the whole heat and Florida isn't the most pleasant place to live weather-wise.” Flores said, as we both were sweating outside of the Lakeland site.

Thousands of people, coming from all corner of Polk County are in need, creating tense moments and high-running emotions at times.

Across the state - DCF has faced rowdy groups and were even forced to shut down at least one public benefits site in Miami due to safety concerns.

“When you go through the metal detector, that's about it, I don't see anything other than that I just see you like civilians helping out,” Flores said when we asked her about the security inside the RP Funding Building.

Security inside the RP Funding Building is pretty tight with more than a dozen Lakeland officers on site and even more traffic enforcement

But, security is just one concern.

DCF has also been combating fraud from day one.

Now, some who are applying and are approved for an EBT card are posting their food stamps on Craigslist and marking them for sale.

[EBT cards are strictly used for cash.]

“I think that's actually ridiculous,” Flores said after hearing about the fraud online. “ If I really don’t need it, I wouldn’t come,” she added.

“It's frustrating for people that are coming in and manipulating the system just to get a couple extra bucks,” Henceroth said as he stood beside his two boys.

DCF assures ABC Action News fraud teams are on high alert, and will be charging anyone who is brazen enough to announce they are selling the cards online.

“Our PBI, which is our Public Integrity Office, who are on site here in case we do find any fraud or suspect anyone of committing any fraud,” David Ocasio, with DCF said.

If you suspect anyone may be committing food stamp fraud, you can send a tip to