Illinois Link Card Fraud

Brian Seay

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. (IRN) – Lawmakers who seek to reduce the one percent of Link card users who commit fraud are taking a lot of heat in Springfield.  Department of Human Services Secretary Michelle Saddler says the plastic, credit card-like Link cards that replaced food stamps several years ago have seen a reduction in fraud. 

“Food stamps really genuinely used to be paper documents that were almost considered a negotiable instrument, and so the advent of the Link card has reduced the individual fraud,” she said at a Senate Appropriations committee Tuesday morning.

But State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) said he’s seen rampant fraud in his district in just one week.

 “This is from a meeting with a police sergeant in Rockford:  ‘Last week we made three arrests and these individuals – one had 20 Link cards on them, one had 30 Link cards, and one had 5 Link cards on their persons.’  And that was just one officer, one week, in one community,” said Syverson in the same committee before Saddler. 

Syverson says when state funds that should be feeding children and families are traded in the form of Link cards for drugs and alcohol, even if just one percent of Link cardholders do it, Syverson says fraud needs to be reduced.

Hours later, the Illinois House debated a bill that would ask the Department of Human Services to look into how much it would cost to put a photo ID on Link cards.  State Rep. Mary Flowers questioned sponsoring State. Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) on the floor. 

“What is the purpose of the photo on the Link card if you use it electronically?” asked Flowers.  “Because if you implement this, you wouldn’t be able to use the check-out line without a clerk, you’d have to go to the point of sale clerk, have somebody verify it’s the right person so they’re not being traded,” replied Rose.  “That’s the purpose.” 

“So is that in your bill?” asked Flowers.  “That would be step two,” said Rose, as he tried to clarify that his bill looked for information that could guide the General Assembly.

Confusion on the House floor about what Rose’s bill did had several Democrats railing against the idea of photo ID’s on Link Cards.   “All this bill does is find out what it would cost, and how to handle caregivers.  It doesn’t actually put a photo ID on anything at this point – on anything,” said Rose.  “It just gives us this information to decide if we want to do that.  That’s all it does.”

HB161 passed 64-48 in the Illinois House and now heads to the Senate.

Copyright Illinois Radio Network

  • Paul Donelan

    Ihate fraud, but start with the wholesale fraud conducted, as a standard way of doing buisness in the house, senate, governor’s office, US capitol, and local govt. Look at the crooks like our former mayor, suicide is pretty radical way of dealing with one’s problems. What is going on at nite when most families are in their homes making dinner and getting the kids into bed. Families are struggling even more than their parents had to. It’s time for the crooks to be rooted out and brought into the light for all to see.

  • Concerned

    I currently am a Link card user. I think its a GREAT idea to have a photo ID on the card! But I am not so sure it will keep people from trading it for drugs. I saw a drug deal where two men purchased groceries at Walmart and exchanged all of them for small sacks of drugs in the parking lot. Its really sad they’re just using what other people need for their high. I currently work two jobs while my husband works as well. Money is very tight and without a Link card, we would literally have nothing. I wish those that need it have it, and the ones that only need it for a trade for a high will get a life. There are people that really need it and can’t but it seems the ones that don’t get a lot of money every month. Maybe when issuing cards they should take a look at their vehicle? Big shinny rims and loud stereos should be a big indicator that they could possibly be a drug dealer? A brand new pair of shoes with brand new clothes finishing their look off to a T? I think maybe the gov’t needs to look a little deeper rather than just “income” since it seems a lot of it will go unreported.

    • Traci

      Maybe when issuing cards they should take a look at their vehicle? “Big shinny rims and loud stereos should be a big indicator that they could possibly be a drug dealer? A brand new pair of shoes with brand new clothes finishing their look off to a T?” Stereotypical!

      this is more of a who is qualified to receive snap benefits issue, you know they used do that in the 60’s and 70’s and it cause a breakdown in the family!
      I just wish people could recognize propaganda when they see it, I mean really “one had 20 Link cards on them, one had 30 Link cards, and one had 5 Link cards on their persons” if that were even true, it sounds to me like that would have been an inside job!

      • Cynthia Vasquez

        You can’t always look at what a person is wearing and if they have rims and a loud stereo. I bought a car with both for $3000 and that’s cheap for a used car. And if I’ve ever had any name brand anything…. it was given to me or bought at a thrift store. So you cant judge a book by it’s cover.

  • Alex L.

    What say do the store clerks have when a fradulent user come to purchase items. I dont think store policy allows for the card to be confiscated and the user sure as hell isn’t going to stick around for the police to show up.

    Then again what about the store owner that is allowing an idividual to purchase items (lets say three cases of Redbull) only to hand back cash in return.

  • James G.

    Get rid of Link and bring the jobs back to the U.S. so people can work and drug dealers can die. Let’s not forget about all the people who lie about and conceal their money to get Link. Then they buy junk food and load it into their $40,000 cars while I drive a POS and work 2 jobs, my wife has 1, so we can pay our way. Furthermore, why can illegals get Link?

    • Cynthia Vasquez

      Illigals don’t get LINK, there children do( U.S. citizen children) it’s there right.

  • Madeline

    I have friends who use a LINK card for their groceries. As far as I know, they use it appropriately. However, they also have an X-box, a Wii, cable with DVR, Sirius radio in their vehicle, i-phones with huge data plans, NetFlix, they go out to the bars almost every weekend, go out to eat quite frequently and are constantly buying new clothes and items for the home. It’s so frustrating as my fiance and I try to skimp by our wages. We don’t have any of the fancy extras I listed above because it doesn’t fit in the budget. People have forgotten the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ and the state is just fine with that.

    • Nancy

      I strongly agree. How is it that I have 2 kids under the age of 6, got o school for nursing full-time of which financial aid only covers 2500 out of mywonderful 7000 a semester bill, and I am only able to work part-time.I do not have the link and do not feel that I need it. I do not have luxury car with rims, my kids do not wear brand name clothing and I do not go get my nails and hair done biweekly. It is all about managing the money that is made. There should be a limit on the number of children that are covered. I mean you cannot have 7 kids and expect the link to be paying for them. It is the responsibility of the parent, I mean you choose to have 7 children because you can care for them.

  • Cynthia Vasquez

    I know how you feel. My only fancy extra is internet. Yes there are alot of people tht abuse the system. And if there is suspision of that they should be watched closely they probably have under the table jobs.

  • chet schwab

    i have an ex that is giving false info to dhs and want to know how to report her about income and living arrangments and does see need to let them know about child support as a form of income ?

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