By AFRO Staff

States will be required to reimburse victims of food stamp hackers under provisions of the $1.7 trillion federal spending bill passed this week.

The measure, added to the massive spending bill approved by Congress Dec. 22, will mean that state agencies will cover a fast-growing theft-of-benefits scheme.

The AFRO reported on Baltimoreans affected by cyber crime this week. As of Oct. 31, scammers in Maryland had looted a total of more than $1 million from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other federal assistance programs. According to the Maryland Department of Human Services, the number was an increase from the $92,000 stolen in 2021. Such thefts have soared throughout the nation this year. City officials said they could not replace the funds, but federal help is now on the way. 

The legislation would replenish electronic accounts of millions of recipients, many of them low-income families, looted by hackers. 

Using card skimmers, password scams  and other devices, thieves grab money electronically, often just minutes after the benefits are loaded into users accounts, according to consumer protection experts.

Passage of legislation to reimburse the victims is “a holiday miracle for so many families who have lost their grocery money through no fault of their own,” Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said.  

The congressman, whose district includes Timonium, sponsored the amendment that mandates states to replace money stolen “through care skimming, card cloning or similar fraudulent methods.” In all but five states, the official response to victims’ pleas has been rejection. 

“SNAP theft is a despicable crime that preys on the most vulnerable among us and I am thrilled that many of these victims will be made whole through this legislation.” Ruppersberger said. 

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