By David Emery
Description: Viral image
Circulating since: May 2011
Status: Authentic (see details below)
Text example #1:
Email contributed by Tom T., May 25, 2011:
Fw: MI FOOD STAMPS
Doesn't this give you a warm fuzzy knowing those who have to solicit governmental assistance are able to eat well this weekend???.........
Found in a parking lot of a grocery store, Menominee, Michigan
Text example #2:
Email contributed by Ned, May 30, 2011:
Subject: Fw: Life is tough for the poor.....
Found in a parking lot of a grocery store Menominee, Michigan
Need I say more about Government Giveaway Abuse?
Analysis: The management of Angeli's Country Market in Menominee, Michigan has confirmed the authenticity of a customer receipt showing that $141.78 worth of lobster, porterhouse steak, and Diet Mountain Dew were purchased by an individual using a Bridge Card (the electronic benefits card issued to food stamp recipients in Michigan) on February 8, 2011.
Since Michigan law defines "eligible food" for the government assistance program as "Any food or food product intended for human consumption except alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and foods prepared for immediate consumption," the purchase itself was not illegal. But because steak and lobster are generally regarded as luxury foods, the transaction has been condemned in some quarters as an instance of welfare abuse.
Indeed, it's such a stereotypical example of welfare abuse "Everyone knows of someone (or knows someone who knows someone) who was in line behind a welfare person using food stamps, and observed him or her purchasing frozen dinners or steaks or lobster or some such," complained author Michael L. Murray in 1997 that skeptics initially wondered if the Menominee incident actually took place. It did.
Items were illegally purchased for resale
Still, on the face of it the case does seem too flagrant and over the top to be true, and now we know why. According to the Menominee County Sheriff's Department, local and state investigators have discovered that the reason the cardholder bought such large quantities of lobster, steak, and soda was not to "dine like a king," as some have characterized it, but to resell them for profit. And that is illegal.
The accused, one Louis Cuff, has been charged with welfare fraud and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Sources and further reading:
Menominee Man Charged for Welfare Fraud
Fox 11 News, 3 May 2011
Lobster, Steak, Mountain Dew on Bridge Card No Urban Myth
Lansing State Journal, 23 May 2011
Felony Charge in Lobster, Steak Bridge Card Case
Lansing State Journal, 7 June 2011
Last updated 06/08/11