NY Frum Elected Officials, States and Feds Aim To Stop Food Stamps Skimming Fraud.

Sen Sepulveda

As FrumNews.com reported several times, Food Stamp (EBT) skimming scams have increased over the past several months in New York including the neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Boro Park and Flatbush, Recent efforts, both in the tri-state area and in DC, have raised the issue's profile and the urgency of a fix. 

As FrumNews.com reported several times, Food Stamp (EBT) skimming scams have increased over the past several months in New York and New Jersey, including the frum communities of Brooklyn, Monsey, and Lakewood. Hundreds of frum residents are reporting that their EBT benefits have been emptied. 

Brooklyn Shomrim and Shmira organizations have warned residents to be cautious at the checkout counter for the past several months. They have recovered several skimming devices placed by outsiders in kosher supermarkets, thus thwarting additional scams. EBT skimming fraud happens silently and often without the victims’ knowledge. Scammers enter stores and place hidden skimming devices over or inside card-reading machines at legitimate retailers to copy card and PIN information directly. 

EBT  programs are complex and vary by state. The federal government funds them, and state agencies handle most recipient functions. 

Recent efforts, both in the tri-state area and in DC, have raised the issue’s profile and the urgency of a fix. 

New York 

A recent bipartisan set of bills was introduced in the NY Legislature by Frum Assemblyman Sam Berger and Frum Senator Simcha Felder, alongside State Senator Luis Sepúlveda and Assemblymembers Brian Cunningham, Maritza Davila, Michaelle Solages and Brian Maher.

The bills would increase fines to empower benefit recipients with better fraud prevention tools. The first bill provides that the theft of benefits contained on an EBT card is a class D felony punishable by a ten thousand dollar fine. The second and third bills require EBT systems to allow benefit recipients to cancel or lock a credit or debit card when fraud is suspected or reported and include automatic credit or debit card cancellation when fraud is reported. 

State Assemblymembers Zohran Mamdani and Jessica González-Rojas introduced another bill under consideration. This bill would require the state to upgrade the EBT cards to use contactless payment technology. These four bills are in committee and have yet to be voted on. 

New Jersey 

New Jersey assemblywoman Alixon Collazos-Gill (D-27) introduced a bill to address EBT fraud. 

The bill requires DHS and DOH, respectively, to provide information on SNAP, WFNJ, and WIC recipients regarding card skimming, cloning, and similar fraudulent activities and to replace stolen benefits; it also makes an appropriation. 


Over in Congress, NJ Congressman Andy Kim (who is running for U.S. Senate in New Jersey) and Monsey Congressman Mike Lawler introduced a bipartisan bill to curb SNAP fraud. 

The bill requires the USDA to issue updated regulations requiring EBT cards to feature anti-fraud technology capable of preventing cloning, phishing, and skimming. The bill also utilizes USDA funding, and states will begin issuing chip-enabled EBT cards within two years of adopting the new regulations. Within four years, states will no longer be able to issue new EBT cards containing a magnetic stripe. Within five years, states must reissue all existing EBT cards containing a magnetic stripe as chip-only cards. 

“We must ensure families who rely on SNAP get the support they need – and that means we must ensure there are adequate safeguards in place to protect those benefits from cybersecurity threats,” said Rockland County Congressman Lawler. “To that end, I’m proud to join my colleague Rep. Kim and Senators Wyden and John Fetterman in introducing the bipartisan, bicameral Enhanced Cybersecurity for SNAP Act. This legislation will go a long way to ensuring that those who need this assistance are the ones receiving it, not the fraudsters who prey on our most vulnerable.” 

According to the FBI, skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion each year. Over 61,000 New Yorkers have been victims of EBT fraud. 

In late December 2022, Congress passed a law to protect and replace SNAP benefits stolen via card skimming, card cloning, and other similar methods. The law requires states to replace such stolen benefits between Oct. 1, 2022, and Sept. 30, 2024. States can use federal funds to provide these replacements following the procedures in their approved state plan.

 The USDA is also working with State agencies to update regulations for Food Stamps.