ATLANTA — There are new fraud concerns with the $1 billion in cash payments designed to help some of the most vulnerable Georgians.
DeKalb County resident Geneva Moon can’t get access to her $350 cash assistance card from the state of Georgia, but someone is spending the money. According to the state’s online portal, there have been multiple charges to the account.
“Somebody somewhere is using it,” Moon told Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray.
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Cobb County resident Dena Barrett fears the same problem with the assistance for her children that the state portal shows has been paid, but she hasn’t received.
“What is most frustrating is somebody might have it and is using it, and I’m not,” Barrett said.
In September, Gov. Brian Kemp provided $1 billion in leftover federal aid from the American Rescue Plan, a bill he opposed.
The $350 cash cards were going to Medicaid, SNAP, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients.
There has been confusion from the start about redeeming the cards. Social media channels for the state were flooded with complaints. Now there is a growing concern about fraud.
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“The money needs to get to the people it was meant to get to,” Moon said.
The Georgia Department of Human Services acknowledges fraudsters have attempted to steal from the program, telling Channel 2 Action News in a statement:
“DHS and its vendors have kept a close watch on potentially fraudulent activity and taken decisive action to protect customers, their information, and their payments. Due to suspicious activity and out of an abundance of caution, a small number of Georgia gateway accounts were temporarily suspended or delinked.”
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DHS says phishing schemes are also targeting the $350 cash cards with Georgians receiving dangerous phishing texts and emails from scammers.
“Even more disturbing than this one card in my mind is, we’re talking about millions of dollars and how much of that is being intercepted,” Moon said.
‘We’ve instituted controls in accordance with industry-standard practices when phishing-related and similar fraudulent activities may occur,” a DHS statement said.
According to the latest numbers, $997,620,000 has been sent to 2,850,353 Georgians, with $557,678,100 claimed and $443,570,999 spent.
Dena Barrett says the money would make a huge difference for her four children if she can just get it.
“With Christmas coming up and the holidays and food costing what it does and everything else this would be a godsend,” Barrett said.
If you need help from DHS you can call 833-907-0683 to file a claim for the potential fraud, or if you did not receive your virtual card via email, you can contact 877-423-4746.
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