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“We actually received a telephone call from WalMart on Hudson Avenue suggesting that there was welfare fraud, and indicating they were going to call the FBI because people were going in and buying X-boxes, Wii systems, flat-screen television sets,” said Kelly reed, the county’s commissioner of social services. “Wegmans has indicated people are buying tickets to Darien Lake.”
The $200 per child grants showed up in welfare accounts this week. Many recipients had no idea the money was coming, and flooded area stores and ATMs.
The money is a combination of $140 million in federal stimulus funds and a $35 million donation from philanthropist George Soros. About $6.5 million went to more than 32,400 children in Rochester. Critics have said the program invited waste and abuse, because there are no strings attached to the grant money.
“When you hand out $200 per child cash to a family with no strings attached, no requirements for spending, are we surprised that people are buying flat screen TV's i-Pods, X-boxes?” Brooks said.