Boynton clerks busted in food stamp card fraud

By Juan Carlos Fanjul - bio | email

BOYNTON BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Undercover video shows a police officer posing as a regular customer at the Palm Food and Beverage on Boynton Beach Blvd.

First, she picks up the 6 pack of Miller High Life, then a pack of Newport cigarettes and then asks for cash back.

All of that would be ok, if the customer were using their own money. But the officer got the booze, smokes and cash with a government issued Benefit Card, an electronic food stamp that's supposed to help low-income families.

"I was kind of hoping we had stores playing by the rules, but found out fairly quickly that businesses were not doing it," said Sgt. John Bonafair.

For five months, Boynton Beach Police investigated five different convenience stores after getting complaints the stores were allowing people to use food-only cards for booze and cigarettes.

Investigators also claim the clerks would give out cash and keep a kick back for themselves.

"Typically for 50 cents on the dollar. If you asked $20 in cash, they would keep $20, as well," added Bonafair.

A part-owner of First Stop Food on S. Federal Highway denied the accusations.

"No sir, we never did anything like that," said the unidentified man.

Five store clerks were arrested for public assistance fraud after investigators found taxpayers were ripped off for $100,000.

"Instead of helping families, they were helping themselves illegally as well as convenience stores. They were pocketing out of taxpayers money," said Sgt. Joe Degiulio.

Boynton Beach Police suspect the problem stretches well beyond city boundaries.

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