Hot Topic: LINK Card Fraud

By: Lauren Kravets
By: Lauren Kravets

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The comments are pouring in; many say LINK card recipients don't really need the help and say they're abusing the system.

In fact more than 3,000 people have been convicted in Illinois so far this year. But that equals less that one percent.

If someone is fraudulently using LINK cards, they're automatically disqualified from the program and have to pay back that money. But the Illinois Department of Human Services is working to stop that.

"You have to come up for re-certification, those are measures that are put in place to help prevent fraud... We also go off of tips that we get not only off our help line but our local offices. The food stamp program is actually a lengthy interview process," explains Marielle Sainvilus, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services.

One viewer says fraud is far from her mind, she writes, "I have LINK and both my husband and myself work and I go to school full time. We have a child and unfortunately with our income sometimes we can't afford food," says online name, nen2reesecups.

And food and some drinks are all those on food stamps can buy.

"They are not allowed to buy alcohol and cigarettes with SNAP or with food stamps," says Sainvilus.

And despite the stereotype, food stamps aren't just for low-income anymore, especially during a tough economy.

"A lot of middle class families are finding themselves having to use food stamps as well."

A middle class family might be eligible for food stamps if a member recently lost his or her job. And to clarify, a LINK card can have more than just food stamp money on it; it can also have cash benefits. In those cases, a person can actually use it at the ATM and withdraw cash to temporarily pay bills and buy clothes. But again, the Department of Human Services says they're watching closely for purchases that are not allowed.

To report link card fraud, contact the Illinois Link Help Line at 1-800-678-LINK (5465).

You can view the original story and comments here.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous Location: Chicago,IL on Apr 3, 2012 at 03:34 PM
    Tahnkyou for your time.And sorry for the long trim what.Here is some other information from about a Walgreens employee Estella her last name she is using is Estella Washington a.k.a. for the (maiden name)on her Linkcard.Not her married name Mitchell.Her name Washington may apper at Walgrees (show up by her maiden name)not just her married name on Walgreens recordes and Debra Rule she is geting money somehow when she has some trouble with the bank(s)? by taking(paying)for other cards.So,Thankyou and,Good Luck!
  • by Anonymous Location: Chicago,IL on Feb 17, 2012 at 12:58 PM
    Thankyou for time again.There was a few things left out.They(as)Debra Rule uses the Chase(ATM)and others.And there are Streetwise who as well know about this as well they as well have link cards.Who as well have Chase .And go to the ATM.So please be very careful with all of this and yourself!Thankyou.
  • by frank Location: madison county on Jan 5, 2012 at 07:20 AM
    the wic program is set up better than the link program. you have to show the card and also a id when you use it.so why not set the link card the same way. Also a drug test should be done every month.
  • by judi Location: st clair county on Jan 3, 2012 at 10:21 AM
    I THINK THE PHOTO ID IS ONE OF THE BEST IDEAS THE STATE HAS COME UP WITH. I HAVE TO SHOW MY ID WHEN I WRITE A CHECK ANY WHERE IN THE STATE AND I DONT HAVE A LINK CARD. THIS MIGHT SAVE THE STAE AND TAXPAYERS SOME MONEY.
  • by Tracy Location: Rockford on Nov 28, 2011 at 08:08 AM
    I really look at it as a sad thing why do we waste so much money to the undeserving dope feins selling their links for their family. You have money to support other things why dont they put a picture on the card or drug test. The man I was with for 5 years sells to this day his link card to get dope and alcohol to the dope man. He has never to my knowledge bought food with it. Makes me sick while my kids and I are wishing we had it to buy food. Really???? And why cant they drug test a drug test sure is cheaper than supporting a drug habit for these people out there. I am sorry yes some people truley do need the assistance but how do you catch up the ones being dirty and taking advantage of the system and who or how do you get anywhere with this. Some people just cant be help I found that out . I tried for five years and do not use or drink.
  • by Nada Location: Orland Park on Nov 21, 2011 at 10:41 AM
    I tried calling the fraud hot line number to report a person that made two large CASH purchases totaling almost 20k and saw her the next day paying for groceries with a link card. The hot line wants your link card number to proceed. Where to report this scam?
  • by djwill Location: chicago on Sep 19, 2011 at 11:40 AM
    why is it that the state and government reward people for having babies with loser "playa" boy friends.i am sick and tired of people getting rewarded with a link card because they are too stupid to use birth control.if they would put tight requirements on who gets state or government aid they would not be so fast to bring a child into the world and expect everyone else to pay for their mistake.durbin and quinn are clueless on the situation of this state.with more and more people out of work the resentment is very high on those who abuse link and goverment aid. it is now time to revamp the whole system and make people think before they decide on the wrong choices, with link as a safety net.
  • by djwill Location: chicago on Aug 14, 2011 at 01:48 PM
    yesterday at a local small store a women in front of me had her items all scanned. i noticed her link card proudly sitting on the counter. as she chatted with the cashier she suddenly reached over to the potato chip,fritos rack and grabbed about 8 bags and had them all scanned.the chips by the counter are impulse items. they were all .99 cents each. why do stores allow junk foods to be bought using a link card.it was like her thinking oh well the state will pay for my fritos!i never even think about buying any item by the register. i will wait until i see chips on sale then look for a coupon. i brown bag every day for lunch.i've seen birthday candles,cards,cakes plastic spoons all bought with link. are the stores not held accountable for what the link items are? they need to have picture i.d.s on all link cards.one women i saw last year pulled out 2 link cards a jokingly said "pick a card".gee, i wonder why illinois can't pay it's own bills!
  • by Anonymous Location: Chicago,IL on Jun 15, 2011 at 03:31 PM
    Thankyou again to get intouch with you.Yesterday I was waiting on a young female she had a Victoria's Scret Bag and more as well others.And the woman came back to see Treasa at Walgreens again today.Thankyou.
  • by Anonymous Location: Chicago,IL on Jun 14, 2011 at 06:20 PM
    Today at a Walgreens located in Chicago at Dirvesy and Halsted.between 12(noon)to 12:30(noon) a woman approch me to help her get out .94 cents from her Linkcard for her but I know I could not.But someone at work did get the money not only for her but close the card for.The money that was left.But I know by taking the test for work and the customers know that I can not.The co-worker name is Treasa.And the I gave you that was it.Thankyou and there had been.
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