A glitch to the government’s Electronic Benefits Transfer–card system spurred a rush to at least two Louisiana Walmart stores by welfare recipients on Saturday night. With the glitch removing spending caps and allowing for unlimited purchases, recipients nearly cleared the stores’ shelves and later abandoned overloaded shopping carts once the error to the system was corrected. The aftermath of the rush shows the scale of the effort to get as much as possible.
From about 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday evening, Walmart vistors in Mansfield and Springhill ransacked the two locations, prompting employees to call police.
“It was definitely worse than Black Friday. It was worse than anything we had ever seen in this town. There was no food left on any of the shelves, and no meat left. The grocery part of Walmart was totally decimated,” said the Springhill police chief. While no arrests were made, police did stop some shoppers as they were leaving and forced them to return the food. The state’s Department of Children and Family Services released a statement that said its fraud-monitoring operations were in place and it would investigate possible instances of fraud.