The federal government is once again rewarding Florida for keeping a lid on food stamp fraud. It's the 6th year in a row the US Department of Agriculture is recognizing the Department of Children and Families for the accomplishment.
State officials are being rewarded with an $8 million bonus for it's accurate processing of food assistance applications - so far, bringing in more than $45 million in bonus money over the last 6 years.
Nearly 35,000 people in Bay County receive a total of about $4.5 million in assistance from the food assistance program each month and the Department of Agriculture says very few of those people are receiving benefits they aren't entitled to.
"Florida is leading the nation in public assistance fraud initiatives," said Vicki Abrams, regional managing director of the northwest region of the Department of Children and Families. "Identifying computer and technology ways that we can combat fraud in our communities with our public assistance program."
Last year, Florida's application error rate was .87%, this year, it's the lowest in the nation at .77%.
To further fight public assistance fraud a new system was put in place by the Department of Children and Families. This system called customer authentication was put in place locally on Monday.
"I was watching a lady apply for benefits and she got to the customer authentication process and it asked the question, when you lived at 500 W 11th Street, you know what car did you own? And it would list numerous cars and she would check the one that was hers," Abram recalled. "The next question would say, what year was that car that you identified in question number 1."
The Florida Legislature will use that money at it's own discretion.