Aloha! Massachusetts EBT cards used at posh hotels in Hawaii

mikeyp

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More of those "merely anecdotal" stories...again. So glad my money goes to people using it on trips I can't afford to go on


EBT card holders from Massachusetts have spent their tax-funded benefits in almost every state — including popular vacation spots like Hawaii where welfare money was withdrawn at hotels in “paradise,” right on Waikiki Beach and the “best address” on Hanalei Bay, records show.

A Herald review of more than 2 million EBT expenditures in fiscal year 2019 found the cards being used in Hawaii on 18 different occasions. Thousands of other out-of-state transactions included cash withdrawals in Las Vegas, and numerous card uses in Alaska, California, Florida and Louisiana. The state Department of Transitional Assistance on Monday did not provide any explanation for the out-of-state spending iof benefits that are intended for the needy and hardship cases.

In Hawaii, records show a state-issued EBT card was used twice at the Princeville Resort on the island of Kauai for a total of $400 in November of last year. The resort bills itself as “a sanctuary for the modern luminary” and Hawaii’s “best address.”

Rooms are now going for more than $800 a night, but the EBT records obtained by the Herald through a public records request do not specify what exactly the card was used for at this resort located above legendary Hanalei Bay.

The DTA prohibits the use of EBT cards for vacation services, but hotels are not on the banned list. Pot, booze, tattoos, lottery tickets, adult entertainment and casinos are prohibited. The DTA did say ATM withdrawals are allowed “at permitted location types.”

Another EBT card from Massachusetts was used in January at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu, records show.

That expenditure was $140 at a destination called “paradise” and “priceless,” according to guest reviews online. The resort’s website adds the hotel is “just three miles from the famed Diamond Head crater.” The DTA did not address that bill either.

The cash used came from EBT cards from the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children. Food stamps were not included in the data shared.

A DTA spokeswoman said the agency monitors for “continuous out of state EBT card usage” to help determine if someone has moved to another state.

“DTA uses enhanced data analytics to proactively monitor Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card transactions and was the second state in the country to launch an aggressive program to stop fraud before it occurred by blocking locations where cash assistance use is prohibited,” the agency said when asked to explain all the out-of-state purchases.

The EBT program was reformed in 2012, after the Herald reported rampant abuse, with new restrictions put in place. But critics say the reforms didn’t go far enough.

Two welfare watchdogs said DTA’s current response does not address the unexplained use of EBT cards in Hawaii — thousands of miles and a $700 round-trip airfare away from Massachusetts.

“That’s a red flag,” said state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, who will take over as mayor of Taunton next month. “Hawaii? That’s outrageous. How do you get there if you are on tax assistance?
“We shouldn’t see expenditures at five-star resorts,” O’Connell added. “If there are ongoing expenditures in Hawaii that is a huge problem that needs to be investigated by the DTA.”

Greg Sullivan of the Pioneer Institute, a former state inspector general, said he’s also suspicious.

“This just breeds massive doubt and cynicism,” he said. “People who do that do a tremendous disservice to those who really need the money.”

The DTA said if an EBT card is exclusively used out of state for 45 days, a household must provide proof of current Massachusetts residence.

Sullivan called on the agency to share in the “shame and blame” for not going after questionable out-of-state uses of EBT cards, especially when taxpayers are paying for the benefits.

“I’ve always questioned why EBT cards were allowed to be used out of state,” Sullivan added. “Seeing money spent at the ‘Best Address’ in Hawaii just shows the system lacks controls.”
 

*CJK*

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These are anecdotal, there must have been a family emergency or a sick relative that needed care in Hawaii 😝
 

GaryO

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These are anecdotal, there must have been a family emergency or a sick relative that needed care in Hawaii 😝
There should be a photo taken by the atm every time they are used so they can be tracked.
 

Wickedcoolname

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They need to go back to food stamps. Food stamps used to look like monopoly money and you could only use it for buying food. As soon as the state changed to a debit type card the abuse went through the roof. People should be thankful and humble when they use welfare money. But an EBT card is just another card. No shame in their game at all.
 

Woodsy

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They need to go back to food stamps. Food stamps used to look like monopoly money and you could only use it for buying food. As soon as the state changed to a debit type card the abuse went through the roof. People should be thankful and humble when they use welfare money. But an EBT card is just another card. No shame in their game at all.
That is exactly why democrats changed it. They felt people were being stigmatized by showing they rely on the govt for a handout. My position is if you feel that bad then don’t take the handout! The system now is just a free cash system. I rented to a non married couple, they were flush with cash with the EBT system. Plus free rent because she had all the kids and he just lived there unknown to the Govt. friggin ridiculous, although section 8 rent is never late 😉
 

GaryO

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That is exactly why democrats changed it. They felt people were being stigmatized by showing they rely on the govt for a handout. My position is if you feel that bad then don’t take the handout! The system now is just a free cash system. I rented to a non married couple, they were flush with cash with the EBT system. Plus free rent because she had all the kids and he just lived there unknown to the Govt. friggin ridiculous, although section 8 rent is never late 😉
When I was a landlord prospective tenants would say that I would be crazy not to rent to them, they are on section 8, guaranteed money from the government every month. Never once rented to a section 8 tenant.
 

Woodsy

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When I was a landlord prospective tenants would say that I would be crazy not to rent to them, they are on section 8, guaranteed money from the government every month. Never once rented to a section 8 tenant.
Well I once thought that way until I had a few bail in a midnight move out. Section 8 were always on time, never an issue. Did I like it personally? No I think the system is fraught with fraud. The other best renters I had were newly arrived immigrants, paid in cash on time like clockwork.
 

new guy

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Shame on the MA system that allows and encourages it, up to and specifically including every single governor we’ve had over the best few decades.
 

GaryO

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Well I once thought that way until I had a few bail in a midnight move out. Section 8 were always on time, never an issue. Did I like it personally? No I think the system is fraught with fraud. The other best renters I had were newly arrived immigrants, paid in cash on time like clockwork.
I never had anyone leave but I did end up in court 3 times, 2 for security deposit issues, won those and one assault charge on a tenant because I called her a bad name. Won that one also.
 

BUMPA01603

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Fraud is fraud. They should cancel every card and make people reapply for them, requiring some face time at an agency for proof of life and level of need! It won't happen in this effed-up state, just like nothing will be done about these crimes in Hawaii and Vegas! Yes, I wrote crimes, cuz that's what it is [banghead]
 

Dadstoys

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Just settle down,ask no questions and get back to work.
This stuff doesn't pay for itself.
If the Democrat voting base wants to jet off to a vacation you can't afford on your dime, well that's just how it is.
 

Dadstoys

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When I was a landlord prospective tenants would say that I would be crazy not to rent to them, they are on section 8, guaranteed money from the government every month. Never once rented to a section 8 tenant.
A guy I know rented out his townhouse to section 8.
I told him he was nuts, but he kept insisting that it was "guaranteed money" too.
When the scumbags finally pulled up stakes , they left him with 10 grand in damages to the place.
Sinks ripped off the wall
Kitchen cabinets tor out.
Holes kicked and punched in every wall.
They never did find any of the interior doors.
And the topper was a dead dog found in one of the bedrooms.
How's that guaranteed money working out for you Joey?
 

GaryO

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I can't wait for Ayanna Presley to condemn this, using government money for a trip to Hawaii. They have to say that you can't use taxpayer money to violate the Green New Deal.
 

ReluctantDecoy

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When I was a landlord prospective tenants would say that I would be crazy not to rent to them, they are on section 8, guaranteed money from the government every month. Never once rented to a section 8 tenant.
The danger of section 8 is the fact that once established as a tenant, it can be extremely difficult to remove them as tenants. Housing courts typically side with tenants in this situation unless you have overwhelming proof of wrongdoing on their part. So you could end up with crappy tenants who, by the letter of the law might not damaging your property, but who could be unremoveable headaches nonetheless. There is also the fact that housing authority will do annual inspections and can make some crazy demands at times for property improvements to not only the unit itself, but the common areas of the property. If you don't comply, the payment vouches does not get released.
 

calsdad

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They need to go back to food stamps. Food stamps used to look like monopoly money and you could only use it for buying food. As soon as the state changed to a debit type card the abuse went through the roof. People should be thankful and humble when they use welfare money. But an EBT card is just another card. No shame in their game at all.
There hasn't been shame in the game since the givernment took over "welfare" .

If you want shame it ALL has to go back to private charities, where "shame" can actually exist.
 

new guy

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I remember reading somewhere that there are people living in PR that came here just to get EBT etc and then go back to PR and live.
PR is the biggest bunch of welfare frauds in the whole US system. We should have cut the whole place loose a long time ago.

 

GaryO

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A friend of mine owned a
The danger of section 8 is the fact that once established as a tenant, it can be extremely difficult to remove them as tenants. Housing courts typically side with tenants in this situation unless you have overwhelming proof of wrongdoing on their part. So you could end up with crappy tenants who, by the letter of the law might not damaging your property, but who could be unremoveable headaches nonetheless. There is also the fact that housing authority will do annual inspections and can make some crazy demands at times for property improvements to not only the unit itself, but the common areas of the property. If you don't comply, the payment vouches does not get released.
3 family in Lowell, he had a section 8 tenant who played those games, he fixed all the supposed problems and then went into the tenants apartment and told them to leave, they refused so he tossed the couch through the 2nd floor window and told them that they were next. He spent a few months in jail but got the tenants out. He said it was worth it.
 
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