WIC Fraud Defense Attorney


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Has your business been accused of WIC fraud in Pennsylvania or New Jersey? Call Us Today at (215) 839-9529.

At Fienman Defense, we know how to handle WIC violations and what it takes to successfully resolve accusations that your store violated WIC policies. We offer comprehensive legal services to safeguard your business.

Call Attorney Michael Fienman today at (215) 839-9529 or submit a request for a free case evaluation.

Why Choose Fienman Defense?

  • We have a proven record in WIC fraud cases in PA & NJ, with experience navigating the complexities of WIC regulations, compliance, & administrative actions.
  • We’re committed to protecting your rights and preserving your business’s ability to accept WIC.

    The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program

    The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program provides vital nutritional assistance to eligible individuals, including pregnant women, mothers, and caregivers of infants and young children. The program aims to improve these vulnerable populations’ health and well-being during critical growth and development stages.

    How Do WIC Benefits Work?

    WIC participants are issued a monthly electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card or paper vouchers with specific benefits that can be redeemed for specific healthy foods at authorized WIC vendors. These benefits are intended to provide essential nutrients for the health and development of pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, infants, and young children.

    Authorized WIC vendors ensure that WIC participants can access nutritious foods that meet the program’s requirements. However, vendors must adhere to the program’s strict rules and regulations to maintain their authorization status. Any violation of these rules, such as selling unauthorized items, overcharging WIC participants, or engaging in fraudulent WIC reimbursement, can put the vendor’s authorization at risk.

    Local supermarkets, convenience stores, bodegas, corner stores, markets, and other food retailers face serious consequences if they violate the terms and conditions of the program. Penalties can include civil fines, disqualification from the WIC program, and even fraud charges.

    Don’t let WIC fraud charges impact your business. Contact an experienced defense attorney: (215) 839-9529.

    WIC Fraud & Enforcement

    Assistance programs like SNAP and WIC are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and overseen by The New Jersey and Pennsylvania Departments of Health in their respective states.

    What Is WIC Fraud?

    WIC fraud refers to any intentional or deceptive activity aimed at abusing or misusing the WIC program. This can include falsifying documents, misusing benefits, overcharging, falsifying records, and general non-compliance with WIC regulations.

    Here are typical examples of WIC fraud that may warrant disqualification and or criminal charges:

    • Redeeming WIC benefits for unauthorized items: WIC benefits are designated for specific healthy foods for women, infants, and children. A business could be disqualified if they knowingly allow customers to use WIC benefits for items not on the approved list, such as sugary drinks.
    • Charging extra for WIC items: Businesses cannot charge WIC participants more for items purchased with benefits than the price charged to cash-paying customers.
    • Giving cash or credit instead of issuing food: WIC benefits are meant to be used for purchasing groceries, not converted into cash. A business providing cash or credit in exchange for WIC vouchers would be committing fraud.
    • Altering WIC vouchers: Tampering with WIC vouchers, such as changing the expiration date or amount, is a serious offense.
    • Submitting false claims: Businesses are responsible for ensuring WIC transactions are legitimate. Submitting false claims for reimbursement, even accidentally, can lead to severe consequences.

    Penalties & Consequences for WIC Fraud

    Penalties for WIC fraud, much like SNAP violations, can be severe and carry substantial consequences for a business:

    • Civil Monetary Penalty: Vendors found to have committed WIC fraud may face fines, which can be influenced by the severity and frequency of violations. These fines may be negotiable with assistance from a capable attorney.
    • WIC Disqualification: Stores may face temporary or permanent bans from WIC transactions, seriously affecting revenue. Temporary suspensions can vary in length, while permanent disqualification is reserved for the most serious offenses, such as submitting false information.
    • Criminal Charges: In extreme cases, felony charges can be filed based on the value or even federal charges given WIC is a federally funded program.

    Store owners accused of WIC fraud should consult with an attorney with specific experience in WIC compliance to navigate the penalties and work toward a favorable resolution, possibly minimizing the impact on their business. It’s also critical for businesses to take proactive steps to ensure adherence to WIC regulations to avoid these penalties.

    Why Do WIC Fraud Allegations Happen?

    WIC participation in PA and NJ brings several advantages to store owners:

    • Increased Customers: WIC attracts a steady customer base that is guaranteed to spend their monthly benefits.
    • Guaranteed Payment: Being federally funded, WIC ensures that stores are reimbursed for approved purchases, providing a reliable income stream.
    • Community Goodwill: By participating in WIC, stores can showcase their commitment to supporting local families and children, enhancing their reputation within the community.

    However, there are drawbacks to WIC, and mistakes can happen with a complicated federal program:

    • Lower Profit Margins: Reimbursement rates for WIC purchases might be lower than standard transactions, affecting profitability.
    • Administrative Burden: Compliance with WIC requires additional staff training and administrative effort to ensure proper transaction processing.
    • Limited Discretion: The program strictly dictates the eligible items for purchase, limiting a store’s control over sales.

    What to Expect if You’re Accused of WIC Fraud

    When a store faces accusations of WIC fraud, the process typically involves several stages. Initial concerns may be reported through various channels. Complaints against stores can be lodged with local WIC agencies or escalated to the federal level by contacting the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).

    The New Jersey and Pennsylvania WIC websites provide necessary details for local agency contacts, or individuals may call the National WIC Association. The FNS also accepts reports through its website or hotline.

    Initial Contact

    When complaints are made, the store or business in question will be contacted by a representative from the relevant health department or the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) by phone, mail, or in person.

    WIC Fraud Investigations

    Investigators will likely request access to your business records, specifically those related to WIC transactions. This may include sales data, EBT records, and paper voucher logs.

    The relevant department will be looking for discrepancies, such as:

    • Redeeming benefits for unauthorized items.
    • Charging WIC participants more than cash-paying customers for the same items.
    • Submitting claims for ineligible transactions.
    • Tampering with WIC vouchers.

    How Stores Should Handle a WIC Investigation

    You have a limited window if your business is notified of a WIC fraud investigation. Sometimes, you have as little as 10 days to respond formally. Missing this deadline could result in suspension or termination of your store’s WIC participation.

    Additionally, investigators may request that you meet to discuss the allegations and provide documentation. You should approach these interviews cautiously, as investigators are looking for you to admit fault and incriminate yourself. Instead, promptly consult a WIC violation attorney who can safeguard your rights and the store’s interests.

    Steps Your Business Should Take

    Upon being contacted about a WIC fraud investigation, store owners should take the following steps:

    • Respond Calmly & Professionally: Maintain composure and treat the investigators respectfully, as this sets a positive tone for the investigation.
    • Seek Clarification: Ask the investigator to specify the allegations and to provide as much detail as possible regarding the scope and nature of the investigation.
    • Obtain Legal Assistance: Engage an attorney versed in retail compliance and WIC program regulations. Their experience will be invaluable in guiding you through the investigation process.
    • Prepare Documentation: Compile all pertinent business records, including transaction logs, EBT records, and paper voucher logs. This documentation should cover the investigation period and be organized for easy reference.
    • Maintain Confidentiality: Avoid public discussion of the case and stay off social media. Discuss the investigation only with your lawyer and essential store personnel.

    Remember, WIC violations can occur unknowingly, often due to employee mistakes. Since WIC is a federal program administered at the state level, the nature and implications of any infractions are assessed by state authorities. Immediate legal counsel is essential in addressing these matters effectively.

    Have you received a WIC violation notice? We can help: (215) 839-9529.

    Work with a WIC Fraud Defense Lawyer

    It can be tempting to try and handle allegations of WIC fraud alone, believing you can explain any confusion or misunderstanding regarding your WIC compliance. However, this usually does more harm than good.

    Given the severe implications of WIC fraud accusations on your business and reputation, it’s best to consult an experienced WIC fraud attorney who can provide critical support guidance and advocate for your rights.

    By hiring a WIC fraud defense attorney, you safeguard not just your immediate interests but also the long-term viability of your business. Your attorney can help clarify the charges and build a robust defense strategy. Without a lawyer’s help, you risk inadvertent self-incrimination or missteps that could jeopardize your ability to accept WIC.

    A defense lawyer not only protects your immediate interests and reduced potential penalties but also assists in implementing compliance measures to prevent future violations.

    Contact Fienman Defense Today

    If your business is notified of WIC fraud allegations in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, contact Fienman Defense for a free case evaluation. With a record of helping businesses of all shapes and sizes in WIC regulatory matters and fraud defense, we can handle every step of the investigation, from official communications to legal proceedings, while working to minimize the impact of fraud charges on your business.

    Call Attorney Michael Fienman at (215) 839-9529 or submit a request for a free case evaluation. We’ll discuss the details and how we can help.

    Attorney Michael H. Fienman represents clients in criminal and traffic matters throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As an experienced trial attorney for nearly 15 years, he understands your rights. He is a zealous advocate with a reputation for relentlessly defending clients in state court, federal court, and administrative agencies.

    Attorney Fienman is licensed to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of New Jersey, the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, and the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.