By Edmund DeMarche
Published December 03, 2019
On 18 different occasions in 2019, a Massachusetts EBT card was swiped in Hawaii — including one that was used twice at a posh island resort where rooms fetch $800 a night, a report published Monday said.
The Boston Herald said it reviewed more than 2 million EBT expenditures over the past year and found thousands of out-of-state transactions that included withdrawals in Las Vegas and Alaska.
The Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards are issued to needy citizens who qualify and are replenished monthly.
The state's Department of Transitional Assistance bars cardholders from using the cards for vacation services — but hotels are not banned. According to the Herald's report, in one instance an EBT card was used to buy a $700 round-trip ticket from the state to Hawaii.
The paper said it reached out to the agency about the out-of-state spending and did not get an explanation. The agency did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.
State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell told the paper the card's use to buy tickets to Hawaii is "outrageous."
"We shouldn’t see expenditures at five-star resorts. If there are ongoing expenditures in Hawaii that is a huge problem and needs to be investigated by the DTA," she said.
A DTA spokeswoman told the paper the agency monitors out-of-state usage to determine whether the person moved to a new state. The agency has also employed new methods of protecting against fraud by blocking locations "where cash assistance use is prohibited."