FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Federal investigators say 12 people in Florida are accused of defrauding the government out of more than $20 million by illegally trading food stamps for cash.
The Sun Sentinel reports that store owners and employees accepted payments for illegal cash transactions involving no purchases of food. The program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, provides food benefits to low-income people via debit cards.
Federal prosecutors say the fraud in Broward and Miami-Dade counties operated by swiping food stamp recipients’ debit cards at the stores to make it look like they bought food. Instead, the fraudsters gave the card holder cash and then claim full reimbursement by making it appear food was purchased.
The suspects could face between five and 20 years in prison if convicted.