By Miriam Raftery
April 13, 2023 (El Cajon) – Robert Gehr, a senior citizen in El Cajon, was shocked to discover when he went shopping for groceries at Food 4 Less in El Cajon that $1,118 in CalFresh benefits had been stolen off of his Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Since he had only used the card at that store, Gehr and police believe he was a victim of a skimmer device attached by a thief to the store’s card reader.
The County has only reimbursed$120 for the most recent month’s benefits—and Gehr may never see the rest of his stolen benefits returned—benefits that he’d been saving up for months Such scams are alarmingly prevelant -- and hit hard on vulnerable recipients, including low-income individuals, seniors on fixed incomes, and disabled people.
Bianca Sosa-Graciano, program specialist at Self-Sufficiency Services with the County’s Health & Human Services Agency, told ECM that scammers ripping off benefits on EBT cards is a “nationwide issue at this time.”