Food Stamp Glitch at Wal-Mart Stores in Louisiana Investigated

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 12:57 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A glitch with EBT cards at two Wal-Mart stores in Louisiana on Saturday created confusion, as it appeared the people using food stamps had unlimited funds, leading some to leave the stores with cartfuls of groceries.  

KSLA-TV reported that law enforcement was called in to restore order after the food stamp snafu made some shoppers go on a shopping spree at the Wal-Marts in Springhill and Mansfield, La. 

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"It was worse than any black Friday," said Springhill police chief Will Lynd, who said customers with EBT cards were "clearing off shelves."

Photos and videos obtained by KSLA-TV showed aisles packed with shoppers emptying the shelves to carts at the Springhill Wal-Mart. Another video shows a line of carts overflowing with goods that was abandoned in the aisles at the Mansfield store after the glitch was resolved. The debacle lasted from 7 to 9 p.m., at which point authorities remedied the situation.

One woman, who had only 49 cents left on her card, attempted to purchase about $700 worth of groceries and was subsequently held.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling told KSLA-TV that the company was "fully engaged and monitoring the situation and transactions during the outage."

"We did make the decision to continue to accept EBT cards (and purchases on WIC and SNAP) during the outage so that they could get food for their families," she added.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services said it will take all allegations of fraud seriously and investigate the claims.

Xerox officials said Saturday that its systems that process EBT transactions suffered an outage, stemming from routine testing of backup generators. Louisiana was one of 17 states affected by the outage, Reuters reported. 

"The outage was the result of failures by our contractor, Xerox," said Trey Williams, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.

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Related stories:

USDA: Food Stamp Glitch Not Related to Shutdown

Power Outage Shuts Down Food Stamp Program in 17 States

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