Mickey Allison Jr. (L) and Ruby Brackett (Source: Cherokee Co. Sheriff's Office)
GAFFNEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -
The Cherokee County deputies said investigators have made two arrests following a six-month-long food stamp fraud investigation.
Cherokee County deputies said as part of the undercover investigation, they learned a Gaffney man was swiping EBT cards as part of fake transactions to give cardholders cash and keep some for himself.
"It shocks you, but it also makes you mad, because you know there are some people out there that have a need and you hear about folks trying to get some sort of government assistance," Sheriff Steve Mueller said.
Deputies said they arrested 39-year-old Mickey Allison Jr. of Gaffney after executing a search warrant of his home and business on Nov. 26.
Investigators said undercover operatives found Allison was making bogus EBT card transactions with customers in exchange for cash at Allison's Produce on Cherokee Avenue and at his residence next door. They said Allison would keep half the money.
"Basically the person coming up to him, says 'I got 300 on the card,' he would swipe the card, and put their pin number in, he'd print out the receipt as if he had purchased items from the produce stand, and then he would take the wallet out and count the cash out to them," said Mueller.
Deputies said the undercover transactions were caught on camera.
According to deputies, Allison was conducting the bogus transactions at the produce store until it closed in October. Afterwards, deputies said he made the exchanges from his front porch with no products available for sale. During the investigation, deputies said they observed as many as four people waiting in line outside his home to make the transaction.
Investigators said they believe the fraud could account for somewhere between $2,000 and $10,000 and are continuing to investigate.
"Everytime our undercover operative went there in the past six months, we got the same results," Mueller said.
Investigators said they are going to speak with all the EBT card holders involved and additional charges may be filed. Some EBT card holders may also face penalties of expulsion from the program.
"We might be still working on this thing six months from now, I wouldn't be surprised," Mueller said.
Deputies said they also found a small amount of what they believe to be marijuana in the residence. Allison was charged with food stamp fraud, more than $2,000 and less than $10,000, and simple possession of marijuana.
Deputies said 49-year-old Ruby Brackett of Gaffney was also in on the scheme. She was arrested and charged with food stamp fraud less than $2,000.
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