Local welfare benefits accessed in Las Vegas

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by Chris Nagus & John O'Sullivan

KMOV.com

Posted on April 28, 2011 at 9:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 28 at 11:22 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- The culmination of a six month investigation into food stamp and welfare fraud revealed Illinois Link and Missouri EBT cards have been accessed in Las Vegas.

News 4 requested electronic records from the Illinois Department of Human Services, which revealed roughly $5,000 worth of Illinois Link benefits being accessed in Nevada.

The majority of those transactions took place in Las Vegas.

Here is a sample of some of the transactions that took place during that time period.

- $100 from Dotty's, a 24-hour gaming operation.

- $100 from a bar called the Inn Zone just after midnight.

- Another $100 from the Inn Zone just after 3 am.

In January and February, there were no withdrawls reported at the major Las Vegas resorts like MGM, Mandalay Bay or Bellagio. News 4 discovered the big casinos block withdrawls from their ATMs.

We talked to the Vice President of Global Cash Access, the company that programs those ATMs. Scott Dowgy of GCA told us their company works with the government to block welfare withdrawls on casino floors. However, Dowgy says that doesn't stop people from trying. "Over the last six months there have been tens of thousands of EBT card attempts on ATMs, which in our case were all rejected," said Dowgy.

Dowgy also said there's nothing to prevent withdrawls from ATMs at small neighborhood casinos or from businesses across the street from big casinos. News 4's examination of electronic records revealed a pattern of withdrawls at businesses close to the Vegas resorts.

- There were three cashback withdrawls made by one cardholder at the CVS pharmacy on Las Vegas Blvd next to the Monte Carlo. The same cardholder also made three cashback purchases at the Wal-greens directly across the street.

- $200 in link funds were withdrawn from the 7-11 across from the Las Vegas Convention Center

- $200 from a 7-11 ATM next to 24 hour bar with poker machines in North Las Vegas, that withdraw took place at one in the morning.

News 4's request for an interview with the Illinois Department of Human Services about these tranasctions was declined. News 4 is still asking whether these types of transactions raise red flags with the department.

On Monday May 2, News 4 will show where Missouri EBT withdrawls in Las Vegas are taking place. A hotel concierge also reveals something surprising, some EBT cardholders are trying to pay for time shares at Las Vegas resorts with welfare benefits.

If you have a story that has you asking "Is this why we're broke?" email us at broke@kmov.com

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