Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Sonja Isger reports, “A tip from an angry grandmother triggered a two-year food stamp fraud investigation by local and federal authorities that Monday saw warrants issued for 60 people who authorities say cheated the system of $2.8 million.”
“The three men who ran the mom-and-pop grocery, Fajita’s Meat and Fish at 3921 10th Ave. North where the alleged scam took place were arrested last week and face federal charges, according to court documents. Ali Jaber, Hadi Jaber and Daniel Velazquez have run the grocery since 2006,” states Isger.
Investigators say people who qualified for federal food stamp cards went to the market and rather than buying groceries for their families swiped their cards for cash — an illegal use of the cards. The market took a cut, charging a 50 percent ‘fee’ for lying to state and federal authorities about the purchases.
In September Breitbart reported, “Police in [Brooksville] Florida have charged a woman with welfare fraud for allegedly selling her food stamp card on Facebook. Ashley Renee McGinley, 23, was charged in August while being held on an unrelated charge. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said they received complaints from some of McGinley’s Facebook friends about her advertising the sale, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said.”
She reportedly offered to sell a $100 EBT card for just $50. Police interviewed McGinley who admitted to selling the card to a friend named “Kenneth.” Police determined that was Kenneth Dunham, who later told police McGinley sold him a $200 EBT card for $100.
Food Stamp Trafficking in Florida is a felony. It is also cash business that spawns other crimes within a community. Drugs, prostitution and illegal gambling are all supported in part by Food Stamp Trafficking. It is a growing trend that is being addressed by local, state and federal Law Enforcement agencies.
If you are aware of retail stores that exchange Food Stamp benefits for cash or buy EBT cards you can provide a Tip to the Department of Financial Services by emailing: ReportRetailFraud@myfloridacfo.com.