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Seattle police: Store trades food stamps for cash and crack

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Updated: 2/23 2:09 am
SEATTLE, Wash. (KIRO) -- A crime ring busted by the Seattle Police Department uncovered people trading their food stamps for cash and crack cocaine.

Investigators say the scam was based out of the Minh Tam Market in Seattle's International District.

According to detectives, the employees at the store would take food stamps, dispensed electronic benefit (EBT) cards, and give customers cash.

"These folks are selling their EBT cards to a store owner, or associates working there who are giving them 50 percent cash value," explained Seattle Police Detective Jeff Kappel.

For example - police say if a customer had a $400 balance on an EBT card, an employee would give them $200 in cash. Sometimes, instead of cash, police say employees would exchange EBT cards for crack.

In all, four people were arrested and are being investigated for food stamp trafficking and money laundering. Formal charges are pending.

The International Market was back open on Friday night, but employees didn't want to talk about it.

Customers hadn't heard.

"I guess I'm not surprised in a sense. It's a little shady when you go in there. I've been in there shopping," said Allison McLean.

Police served eight search warrants on Wednesday, and recovered $427,000 from bank accounts.

Detectives are still investigating. Police say the crime ring was also making money by using the EBT cards to buy groceries, and then selling the groceries to local restaurants.

Investigators are still working to find out which restaurants were involved.

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Truthseeker - 2/23/2014 6:29 AM
2 Votes
Is this a surprise to anyone?
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