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Borough Park area grocery store owners arrested in massive food stamp fraud bust

By Mason White 12:12 PM November 21, 2013
Borough Park store raided by police 

By: Ryan Lee Hall
(Scroll down for video) A large number of grocery stores were shut down and shop owners are behind bars in a massive food stamp fraud bust carried out by the Department of Homeland Security in New York.

The government assumed that the WIC checks were being used to purchase healthy foods for infants and children.

The Women, Infants and Children nutrition program is funded by the federal government and administered by New York State.

An investigation by federal and state authorities over the past three years discovered a huge food stamp scheme involving WIC checks.

The investigation uncovered that stores in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, bought WIC checks for cash.

“It was a word of mouth kind of thing. You’ve got to know someone who knows someone who knew someone in the store,” officials said in a statement.

Officials said that customers received a percentage of the value of the WIC checks in cash. The store owner pocketed the rest, once the store was reimbursed by the government.

Residents of Borough Park, Brooklyn, said the scam was going on for years in their neighborhood. Instead of WIC checks buying formula or milk, a woman said that people would use the money to buy cigarettes.

Police arrested more than two dozen people in connection with the scam on Wednesday. More arrests are expected. 19 premises were raided and closed.

The charges include welfare fraud, theft of public funds and money laundering.

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