198 ensnared in Jacksonville food stamp fraud totaling $3.7M

Businesses swapped SNAP benefits for cash, even drugs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – 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.

WATCH: More than a dozen arrested in Operation Half-Back

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.

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