Florida law enforcement officials at the federal, state, and local levels busted nearly 200 people for food stamp fraud as part of an undercover investigation.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office announced Tuesday that undercover detectives conducted 390 fraudulent transactions with food stamps and met with more than 130 people over a six-month period.
State and local law enforcement officials in Jacksonville conducted the sting operation by setting up fake businesses where electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards could be used to make fraudulent food purchases or exchange benefits for 50 cents on the dollar.
Bondi said it was “shameful” that so many people abused a program that was meant to help people in need.
More than 115 people were charged with felonies, and 61 people had been charged with misdemeanors.
This is not the first time Florida investigators have uncovered massive food stamp fraud in the state. Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) discovered that southwest Florida retailers carried out more than $20 million in fraudulent food stamp transactions in fiscal year (FY) 2015-2016.
Federal prosecutors charged 12 Floridians with running an alleged $20 million food stamp fraud scheme in October 2017. Justice Department officials say the crackdown was one of the “largest” in history.