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SNAP benefits reported to be stolen in Philadelphia, Southeastern Pa.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A man from Chester said his SNAP benefits, sometimes referred to as food stamps, were stolen and now he said he has no idea how he will put food on the table. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro confirmed the state is receiving reports of stolen SNAP benefits in Philadelphia and Southeast Pennsylvania due to card skimming devices and he's urging people to remain vigilant to avoid becoming a victim. 

CBS News Philadelphia talked with victims and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to uncover the root behind this scheme targeting SNAP recipients. 

"Families are hurting. We're hungry," said Darnell Wilcox, who claims his SNAP benefits were stolen. 

Wilcox, who lives in Chester, said he didn't know it happened until he was in line at a grocery store.

"She ran it back did the same thing. Eight cents left and that was shocking to me," he said. 

Wilcox did his own investigation and found transactions on his account from New York.

CBS News Philadelphia learned Wilcox may have been a victim in a scheme affecting SNAP recipients in Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Gov. Shapiro's administration confirmed the state is receiving these reports, saying scammers are using skimming devices to wipe out SNAP recipients' accounts.

"We understand that SNAP benefits when they're stolen have a huge impact on people, that is their food budget essentially," said Brandon Cwalina, with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

Cwalina said the Department of Human Services has worked with its EBT processor to add additional security features such as no longer allowing SNAP recipients to use common PINs like 1-2-3-4.

Despite the work to prevent fraud, he said it continues to be an issue.

"We know that since the beginning of 2024, DHS has received more than 2,400 requests to replace stolen benefits. We've restored about 1,600 of those," Cwalina said. 

How to contact your county assistance office 

Cwalina said if you believe your benefits were stolen, you should call your local county assistance office to report the fraud and get your card replaced. A full list of Pennsylvania's county assistance offices is available at the link above.

As for Wilcox, he said he hopes this issue gets addressed sooner rather than later.

"Whoever is scamming, making all this happen, they need to be brought to justice," Wilcox said.

If you are a victim or know a victim, we would like to hear from you. Email us at

FBI recommendations when using POS terminal

  • Inspect POS terminals, ATMs, and other card readers before using. Look for anything loose, crooked, damaged, or scratched. Don't use any card reader if you notice anything unusual. 
  • Pull at the edges of the keypad before entering your PIN. Then, cover the keypad when you enter your PIN to prevent cameras from recording your entry. 
  • Use ATMs in a well-lit, indoor location, which are less vulnerable targets. 
  • Be alert for skimming devices in tourist areas, which are popular targets. 
  • Use debit and credit cards with chip technology. In the U.S., there are fewer devices that steal chip data versus magnetic strip data. 
  • Avoid using your debit card when you have linked accounts. Use a credit card instead. 
  • Contact your financial institution if the ATM doesn't return your card after you end or cancel a transaction. 
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