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California Cuts Off Welfare Debit Cards on Cruise Ships

October 5, 2010 By: Susan Young
 


After an investigative story ran in the Los Angeles Times showing state-issued welfare debit cards had been used at casinos across the United States and on cruise ships to withdraw millions of dollars of benefits at vacation spots, the state of California pulled the plug on such purchases Monday afternoon.

California's Department of Social Services discovered that more than $69 million targeted at helping the needy pay their rent and clothe their children was accessed by debit card use in 49 other states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam between January 2007 and May 2010.

The Times' story said the department's database showed $16,010 withdrawn from ATMs on 14 cruise ships sailing from such locales as Long Beach, CA and Miami along with such international cruise destinations as Brazil and China.

Eight of the ships on which the cards were used sail primarily from Miami. In addition, more than $11 million was spent or withdrawn in Las Vegas, about $1 million of that at shops and casino hotels on or close to the strip; of that, $8,968 was accessed at the Tropicana and $7,995 at the Venetian and its Grand Canal Shoppes.

John Wagner, the department's director, instructed the vendor administering the program to forbid such transactions on Monday. This follows a move a few months ago by California to block welfare debit card access at California gambling centers. That investigation revealed that more than half of the state's licensed casinos and poker rooms were set up to accept ATM transactions by persons using public assistance debit cards. 

That said, the state will not cut out-of-state access for the cards. As long as welfare recipients get clearance from their county case worker to be absent from the program's 32-hour-a-week job training requirement, Wagner said they may travel out of state and utilize the funds in a proper fashion. But casino and cruise ship purchases will no longer be authorized. 


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RE:California Cuts Off Welfare Debit Cards on Cruise Ships
by: CLR
on:
October 5, 2010 - 4:28pm

I don't think California Taxpayers should be funding Welfare/Unemployment Vacations. Bravo! and about time I say!


 
RE:California Cuts Off Welfare Debit Cards on Cruise Ships
by: elizabeth Koch
on:
October 6, 2010 - 11:12am

I am a travel agent and earn my living from clients vacation travel but using welfare debit cards is beyond terrible...other Calif residents stay home so they can pay their bills while welfare clients are gambling in fancy ship casinos...reprehensible


 
RE:California Cuts Off Welfare Debit Cards on Cruise Ships
by: karen peterson
on:
October 6, 2010 - 11:25am

This has been going on since 2007? And like a lightbulb of an idea, you now decide this is inappropriate. You, the administrators, are what's wrong with this program. GET WITH THE PROGRAM!


 
RE:California Cuts Off Welfare Debit Cards on Cruise Ships
by: Joe Gray
on:
October 12, 2010 - 9:11am

Oh, please, and enough already with your sanctimony. No question such behavior is reprehensible and way beyond the pale. That said, the fact this has gone since 2007 (which I presume is when such state-issued debit cards were introduced) and is only now being discovered is most likely due to no one having thought that such transactions were happening in such magnitude; not due to any willful dismissal of those transactions.@@@@@@Careful there, Karen Peterson, did you not hear about the fellow in unincorporated Tennessee whose home just burnt to the ground because there was no taxing authority collecting for fire protection services? What program is it you are suggesting to get with? If simple auditing procedures, I applaud your clarion call to action; if something else, I urge you consider the consequences of whatever it is you are on about.


 
RE:California Cuts Off Welfare Debit Cards on Cruise Ships
by: Frank Herdman
on:
October 12, 2010 - 9:11am

I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't uncommon in all the states including Florida where most of the ships sail from.@@@@@@I would love to see the goverment look into see how many people on public assistance went on a cruise in the last year or so?Any goverment offical willing to take up the challenge?


 
RE:California Cuts Off Welfare Debit Cards on Cruise Ships
by: Margaret King
on:
October 12, 2010 - 9:11am

That is absolutely insane. Did no one ahead think that use of these cards could be exploited? After the fact, I suppose.@@@@@@@@@@@@Margaret King@@@@@@BarbadosDayPass.com


 
RE:California Cuts Off Welfare Debit Cards on Cruise Ships
by: stebbiej
on:
October 12, 2010 - 9:11am

FIRST OF ALL, WHO WOULD THINK TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS... ITS ALL KINDS OUT HERE...


 
RE:California Cuts Off Welfare Debit Cards on Cruise Ships
by: Cherylbailey
on:
October 12, 2010 - 9:11am

What the !!@??@@@@@@No wonder that state is in suc mess!!!@!@@


 

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