Thieves have stolen more than $1.4 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits from New Mexicans in ongoing card skimming schemes, according to the state Human Services Department.
The agency reported receiving a total of 2,218 claims of EBT electronic skimming/cloning fraud from June 14 of this year to Oct. 31. Of those, 2,008 claims have been approved for reimbursement by the state.
“This appears to be a nationwide problem,” said Timothy Fowler, an HSD spokesman.
More than 500,000 New Mexicans, or nearly one-fourth of the state’s population, receive SNAP for essential food benefits, according to the HSD.
SNAP, commonly known as the food stamp program, relies on electronic debit cards.
HSD learned that a card skimmer was discovered on July 5, at Jerry’s Market, 7553 Isleta SW in Albuquerque. The skimmer was placed at a register on June 24.
The department also received reports of missing benefits from hundreds of SNAP customers who shopped at the Smiths Food and Drug at 2850 N. Main in Los Lunas.
Other SNAP customers have reported their benefits were stolen in October from stores near Coors and Ouray in Albuquerque in the early morning hours. One man discovered the theft occurred on the same day he received benefits for the month.
Fowler said of the $1.4 million that has been electronically stolen from New Mexico SNAP customers via EBT skimming/cloning fraud, his agency has reimbursed SNAP customers with federal funds totaling $909,721.
“Our focus is on trying to restore benefits to our customers (affected by the theft),” Fowler said. “And we’re doing everything we can to encourage our customers to take necessary steps to reduce the risk and to protect their benefits.”
He said the thefts are being investigated by the Office of Inspector General within HSD in New Mexico.
HSD is urging all SNAP customers to monitor their accounts, change their account PIN regularly and closely examine checkout card readers.
Customers who discover their EBT cards were compromised are asked to notify HSD immediately of the theft. The agency is working with all eligible customers to restore their SNAP benefits and is advising them to change their PIN. Eligible SNAP customers will receive restored benefits no later than 10 days from the date the theft has been verified.
Benefits dating back to October 2022 can be replaced. SNAP customers must contact HSD 30 days from the day they suspect theft of their benefits.
How to report to HDS
People who believe they have had their SNAP benefits hacked can contact the state Human Services Department by: