Massachusetts uses an Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, system for food stamps.
Since May, a detective unit has conducted an undercover operation with officers posing as customers in a variety of Brockton businesses from donut shops to convenience stores.
An officer would present an EBT card to a Brockton store clerk to buy food. Allegedly the clerk would then charge the undercover officer double the amount of the purchase in order to give the customer cash back.
“There are individuals who legitimately need to have this and to have these businesses and company take advantage of people who are really down on their luck is bad for the tax payers and it’s bad really for us as a society,” says Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz
In some instances, a store clerk would buy groceries at a discounted store with the undercover officers EBT card so the officer could just receive cash from the clerk and so the store could resell the groceries at a higher price.
Eight out of nine suspects, who’ve been identified as Brockton store owners and clerks, have been arrested. “We’re also making some notifications to ICE. Although I don’t believe anybody was here illegally, it’s my understanding that the majority of the people, if not all of them, were not U.S citizens,” explains DA Cruz
The individuals, who are all Brockton residents, face charges of larceny and fraud. Five Brockton stores are being charged with trafficking food stamps.
DA Cruz says the investigation is ongoing.