The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida announced the largest food stamp fraud bust in U.S. history Wednesday afternoon.
The announcement came just hours after federal and local law enforcement officers, including members of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, raided several kiosks at the Opa Locka Hialeah Flea Market.
"This case did originate with a complaint of identity theft that involved an individual who lived in Palm Beach County," said Jack Heacock with the Florida Division of Public Assistance Fraud.
500 people had their identities stolen in Palm Beach County to be used to get fake Electronic Benefit Transfer cards which were then exchanged for cash at the flea market, WSVN reported.
“It was a joint operation investigating an individual who stole over 500 identities,” said PBSO Public Assistance Fraud Task Force Agent Michael Leatherman.
Federal charges were filed against 22 retail store owners or operators in connection with schemes to illegally redeem food stamp benefits for cash, the Justice Department said.
Indictments allege the retailers received more than $13 million in federal payments.
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) May 11, 2016
— Ben Kennedy (@BenKennedyTV) May 11, 2016