If you have received a letter from the Bureau of Fraud Investigation of the Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) regarding food stamps, it means that HRA has reason to believe you do not qualify for the benefits you are receiving. HRA will conduct an investigation into whether you qualify. The Food Stamp Fraud Investigators are currently located at 320 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn, NY.
The first step in this process involves receiving a target letter from HRA. The target letter will describe the documents the investigators at HRA require to see from you. The requested documents will usually be bank statements, income tax documents, personal identifying documents like driver’s license and birth certificate, landlord or rental letters, pay stubs, and if you have children, letters from the children’s school. It will inform you that an interview will be necessary to gather more information about your case.
The investigators will have already conducted the beginning parts of their investigation. They have access to your food stamp applications, recertification forms, bank printouts of any bank account associated with your social security number. On these documents, the investigator will try to prove that you intentionally left out information such as income, marital status, or any necessary information that you were required to report while filling out a food stamps application. In some cases, they will have access to employer information. This is to show that your income disqualifies you from the benefits.
The next step is to personally arrive at the HRA Office at 250 Church Street to schedule an interview. There, you will be provided with a form that lists the actual appointment date of your interview, and a list of documents you will need. Scheduling an appointment takes a short period of time. The usual time between scheduling an interview and the actual interview is three business days after you personally appear.
On the day of the interview, you must bring all the requested documents with you in person. You may go by yourself or with your legal representative. Once you are greeted by the Investigator, you will be brought to an interview room. There, the investigator will show you the documents they have found on your case. They will show that your recertification application was missing information on income, your employer, marital status etc. You will have to explain in detail why the information is missing and why you failed to report the necessary information.
Next, the investigator will go through each of the individual documents you brought in. These could be bank statements, income tax documents, pay stubs. They will review each document and make a copy for their records.
After reviewing all the documents, the investigator will explain to you their case and their findings throughout the investigation. They will state why the agency believes you do not qualify and how they came to this determination.
After the interview is over, the investigator will speak to their supervisor about the next steps to take. The case could either be referred to the Legal Department, in which the court will be involved. However, if the supervisor agrees, the BFI will draw up an voluntary repayment agreement, in which you agree to pay back the amount of food stamps you did not qualify for.
You then will be notified of the decision. If the decision is a voluntary repayment, they will draft an agreement with you and provide you with the details as to whether the payment is lump sum or monthly.