BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Louisiana audit revealed more than $1 million in tax money was wasted on people who are not alive.
The report shows the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) distributed food stamps to people after they were dead. In the last four years, the DCFS shelled out $1.08 billion in food stamps and other benefits to single family households, according to state records.
However, a report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor states in the four-year period between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2013, DCFS spent $1,290,557 in food stamps that went to 3,938 people who had died. Taxpayers were stunned when they saw the findings.
"That ain't right," said Akili Baruti. "That ain't right."
"That's insane, absolutely insane," Tara Aucoin added. "How does that even happen?"
Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said DCFS was looking at social security records every six to 12 months to see who was eligible for benefits, instead of checking vital records daily, including death notices. He said in some cases, more $500,000 was paid to individuals after they had been dead four months or more.
"The cases we're talking about had more benefits loaded on their card," Purpera said. "Someone was using it improperly."
DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier declined an interview, but the state auditor said the agency has been working since April to correct the matter. Purpura noted because it is nearly impossible to track the person who actually used the deceased person's benefits, it is highly unlikely the taxpayer money will ever be returned.
"On the DCFS SNAP benefits, you're not going to recover those. Those are federal funds and taxpayer funds that we will not be able to recover," Purpera explained.
"It's just unfortunate. Hopefully, we'll do better," Baruti added.
"The Fraud and Recovery Unit is already investigating the cases in this report and will seek recoupment and prosecution of guilty parties," Sonnier said in a statement.