A father and daughter duo who run a small neighborhood market in Orange County are under investigation for allegedly engaging in a million-dollar food stamp fraud for several years, according to an affidavit unsealed Wednesday.
Johanna Garcia and Jose Garcia Olivo operate a small neighborhood market named Euclid Market in Santa Ana. For the past several years and through the present, they have paid customers cash in exchange for charging the customers’ EBT cards, instead of actually selling food, authorities said.
An EBT card is similar to a debit card, but it’s issued by the government and can only be used to buy food.
In return, federal authorities said the store owners would overcharge the food stamp account and make a profit for themselves.
Very little food was sold at the market, according to a federal search warrant. IRS documents said the owners handed out cash instead of groceries.
The scam allegedly went on for four years and may have put $2 million in the pockets of Garcia and her father Garcia Olivo.
Authorities spent the day Wednesday collecting receipts, bank account information and even what appeared to be an ATM from inside the Santa Ana store. A sign was posted that said an EBT card was not accepted at the location.
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Federal agents also served a search warrant at a mobile home where they believe the pair may have kept some documents. Undercover cars surrounded the home. Neighbors told NBC4 it was not clear what if anything was found.
The warrant added the suspects charged as much as $100,000 a month to the government and in doing so also failed to report that illicit income to the IRS.
Garcia and Garcia Olivo could potentially face food stamp, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion charges.