A Phoenix discount store is under investigation on suspicion of food stamp fraud that allegedly cost taxpayers nearly $1 million, a multi-agency task force said.
Authorities said they identified four employees at Dollar Dayz general store at 1602 W. Buckeye Rd. accused of illegally conducting an enterprise, fraudulent schemes and artifices, money laundering, unlawful use of food stamps and computer tampering. Law enforcement did not name the workers involved.
A Special Assignment Unit of the Phoenix Police Department served search warrants on the business at 12 p.m. Police gathered evidence, including cash, bank records, extraneous food stamp cards and business ledgers.
Authorities allege that the store, on multiple occasions, provided cash to people in exchange for food stamp benefits in fraudulent transactions during the course of the months-long investigation. Preliminary data estimated the store allegedly committed fraud against the food stamp program to the tune of $700,000 since 2010, investigators said.
"This is an unfortunate example of a business stealing taxpayer money by allowing a person with a food stamp card to purchase a small item and overcharge the card in order to make a profit," said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. "With tens of thousands of dollars being claimed by a store with two aisles of food, it is physically impossible for Dollar Dayz to have made the volume of sales they are claiming."
By law, SNAP benefits can't be exchanged or redeemed for cash. In a typical criminal transaction, the seller receives a portion of the value of the card in cash and the buyer, in this case the store owner, removes the benefits from the card through sham transactions, investigators said.
The coordinated undercover operation involved the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Office of the Inspector General, the Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the Arizona Department of Economic Security - Office of Special Investigations.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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