As CSP reports, in Operation Stampede, what is being called the largest food-stamp trafficking takedown in history in terms of financial loss, law enforcement agencies filed federal charges last week against 22 Florida store owners or operators, including one convenience-store owner, in connection with schemes to illegally redeem food-stamp benefits for cash. Allegedly, the defendants fraudulently obtained more than $13 million dollars in EBT deposits for transactions in which the stores did not provide food.
According to the indictments, the defendants or their co-conspirators or employees swiped the recipient’s EBT card at a point-of-sale (POS) machine for an inflated amount and paid the recipient, in cash, a reduced percentage of the value of food-stamp benefits charged on the card. The defendants would realize a guaranteed, significant profit from each fraudulent transaction. In most situations, the recipient did not actually receive any food or eligible items in return for their food-stamp benefits.
In addition to the federal indictments, the Office of Statewide Prosecution charged six individuals for their alleged receipt of additional illegal payments during the course of their participation in fraudulent food-stamp schemes.