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Big government solutions are almost always fraught with corruption. Big government begets massive fraud.
Williams said they sold very little merchandise, as most of their volume was exchanging SNAP benefits for cash.
From news4jax.com ▼
Sheriff Mike Williams announced Tuesday the results of a multi-agency, undercover investigation into the exchange of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for cash and, in at least one case, cocaine.
From 2012 to 2017, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives, working with federal and state agencies, documented more than 22,000 fraudulent transactions involving $3.7 million in taxpayer money.
"These people are selling or stealing money from hardworking taxpayers right here in our community, and they are abusing a program that is meant to help people," Williams said.
Williams said that during Operation Half-Back, undercover officers personally observed 115 individuals in 390 fraudulent transactions from February to July 2017.
Attorney General Pam Bondi said her office will be prosecuting those felony cases.
"These schemes are very active in our state, and I look forward to my office holding these defendants accountable," Bondi said in a statement, applauding law enforcement for their efforts. "It is because of their diligence and hard work that this scheme was put to an end."
Investigators said those with SNAP/EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards would give their PIN number to the buyer, and that money would then be deposited into their accounts.
Williams said, in most cases, the food-stamp recipient received 50 cents per $1 of SNAP benefit used. Each transaction was recorded.
The operation originally focused on operators of brick-and-mortar stores, but investigators learned that many of the perpetrators became mobile business -- such as meat, seafood and produce vendors -- so they could apply to the U.S Department of Agriculture to accept SNAP benefits. Williams said they sold very little merchandise, as most of their volume was exchanging SNAP benefits for cash.
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