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Fraudsters stopping innocent Georgians from getting prepaid government assistance

ATLANTA — Georgians whose $350 cash cards were locked up because of suspected fraud are still having trouble getting access to the cash nearly two months after the problems began.

Georgia officials say they are trying to block these cards as quickly as possible when they suspect fraud. The problem is the innocent people whose cars the fraudsters used are having trouble getting them re-activated.

Newnan resident Kevin Kibodeaux said that he has been calling three times a day, every day but has been unable to get a human being on the phone or get help with his card.

“When I heard about the card I thought this would pay for my insurance premium,” Kibodeaux said.

Kibodeaux, who was getting food stamp help after losing his engineering job, used the Georgia cash card to pay for his family’s monthly health insurance payment, only to get a late payment notification a few days later because the payment never went through.

“I looked and that’s when I realized my card had been deactivated or blocked due to suspicious or fraudulent activity,” Kibodeaux said.

In September, Georgia Governor Brian kemp provided nearly $1 billion in leftover federal aid from the American Rescue Plan, a bill he opposed.

The $350 cash cards going to Medicaid, SNAP and TANF recipients.

In October, criminals and fraudsters were intercepting some of those cards that never got to the intended recipients.

“Somebody, somewhere is using it,” Geneva Moon said.

In Kevin Kibodeaux’s case, he successfully activated the card, but is now locked out.

He can see on the portal that someone used the same amount he tried to charge for health insurance at an Apple store in New Jersey.

A Georgia Department of Human services spokesperson says “DHS and its vendors have kept a close watch on potentially fraudulent activity and taken decisive action to protect recipients, their information, and their payments. The temporary card holds are triggered by “suspicious” transactions, some of which may actually be legitimate. "

“I’m not pointing a finger at anyone, but I just don’t feel that it was taken care of at all and I don’t feel that anyone cares because if they do they would have called you back,” Kibodeaux said.

DHS officials continue to urge people whose cards are locked to contact their card specific call center number.

The problem is that’s the number Kibodeaux has been calling repeatedly with no luck.

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