ATM Theft Led to Welfare Fund Pillaging

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Thieves have been draining the debit-card accounts of hundreds of California welfare recipients.

    The San Francisco Chronicle says thieves gained access to card numbers and pass codes and stole the money during a Los Angeles County ATM blitz earlier this month.

    The victims are parents who use the state's Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, which simplify the payment of cash assistance to 1.6 million people and their dependents.

    An e-mail alert to county officials says about 200 welfare recipients notified the state agency that their accounts were empty. They were reimbursed.

    The U.S. Secret Service, which is leading the investigation, and the California Department of Social Services won't comment. Xerox Corp.-subsidiary Affiliated Computer Services, which operates the system, also declined comment.