88 charged in statewide Federal Food Program fraud case - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

88 charged in statewide Federal Food Program fraud case

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Charges have been brought against 88 defendants in one of the largest Federal Food Program fraud cases ever prosecuted in the state of Georgia.

U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver made the announcement in Savannah on Tuesday.

Federal investigators and the U.S. Attorney's Office said food stamp recipients came to stores like the now defunct Super Kids Variety Store and traded their food stamps for cash, getting a fraction of what the food stamps would buy in milk and bread at a real grocery store.

The FBI said the fraud was also going on at Platinum Kids on U.S. 80 in Garden City. Investigators said the fraud wasn't just food stamps.

The stored were also buying the vouchers pregnant mothers and mothers of infants receive to buy healthy staples, like cereal and juice.

"And of course the real victims here aren't just the taxpayers, but the infants and children who were deprived of the benefits to which they were entitled," said FBI Agent Gene Kowel.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said this sting spread across the state, and that the stores have all been shut down.

Prosecution said this fraud cost taxpayers $18 million.

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