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CALL IT THEFT: Unscrupulous EBT shoppers mob Wal Mart stores after computer glitch

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Shoppers using EBT in Louisiana went on a spree following a glitch that briefly permitted them to spend any amount of money they wished with their benefits cards.

SPRINGHILL, LA (Catholic Online) - Police were called to manage near-rioting customers at Wal Mart stores in Louisiana after a glitch permitted people with EBT cards to purchase whatever they liked without a spending limit.

The glitch was admitted by Xerox, who manages some of the infrastructure for the EBT system.

Stores in Springhill and Mansfield were overrun with frantic customers clearing shelves after their EBT cards stopped recognizing limits. The original problem was a glitch that caused an outage of EBT benefits in 14 states. After the system was repaired and went back online, customers shopping at Wal Mart locations in Springhill and Mansfield quickly discovered they could spend without any limit.

This led to a spree as customers literally cleared store shelves with a frenzy seen only during Black Friday sales and riots. Staff at the stores became alarmed and called police. Management at both stores say they contacted corporate offices and were told to allow people to make purchases rather than prevent them from buying food and other essentials, especially after being denied as a result of the initial outage.

However, the behavior of some the EBT recipients is loathsome and borders on criminal theft. It should be noted that not all EBT recipients are in this category. Most recipients are hard-working people trying to make ends meet. Many Americans are just one personal crisis away from EBT. Accepting these benefits does not make one a criminal. Abusing them however, does.

Benefits are intended to allow people who beset by poverty to obtain food and cover basic living expenses while searching for work or raising children. No charitable, moral citizen has an issue with this benefit. An ethical EBT user would recognize the error and report it, and certainly would not exploit it to hoard food and goods from the local store. Yet several alleged virtual abusers, did precisely this.

Police detained one late shopper, a woman who attempted to purchase $700 in groceries while she had .49 cents on her card. Wal Mart refused to press charges and police released the woman after she agreed to leave the food behind.

Ignorance is no defense. Any shopper knows the difference between two week's worth of groceries for a family and $700 worth, which are not the same no matter where one shops.

Amateur cell phone video shows store shelves entirely cleared, down to the last loaf of bread and can of food, and overstuffed shopping carts left in long lines, filling the aisles.

As cards began showing limits around 9 p.m., people abandoned their carts, stuffed to overflowing in aisles for beleaguered employees to restock.

Nor were the people simply buying food for their hungry families. Some recipients purchased non-essential merchandise for themselves. Workers in both stores reported carts piled high with various merchandise. All those transactions were processed.

This leaves taxpayers on the hook for everything. There is no word yet if the transactions were cataloged by the system, although Wal Mart said they monitored all transactions and should be able to tally the receipt for the government.

The just thing would be to assess future benefits, at least by a percentage, or to demand some form of repayment for what was taken above the rightful limits of each account. It is unknown if this will happen.

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