Agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation unit raided the Euclid Market, located at 630 Euclid St D, Santa Ana, on Wednesday morning, May 3, according to the O.C. Register.
The Federal agents had a search warrant related to an alleged $2 million food-stamp fraud. It was alleged that the owners of the Euclid Market, Jose Garcia Olivo and Johanna Garcia (a father and his daughter), wrongly pocketed $2M since January of 2014, by paying individuals cash in exchange for charging those individuals’ Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, instead of actually selling food.
The daughter, Garcia, was also thought to be using someone else’s EBT card at supermarkets and grocery stores to buy goods for herself.
Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows a recipient to authorize transfer of their government benefits from a Federal account to a retailer account to pay for products received, according to the USDA. Find out more about the EBT program here.
Euclid Market caught the eye of the Federal investigators when their sales greatly increased, since they were approved to accept EBT transactions in Dec. of 2012, even though they only sell convenience type items and food, such as chips, drinks, candies and cigarettes.
To make matters worse, the Euclid Market was accepting transactions for large sums instead of the usual small amounts that are generally the norm.
Undercover investigators, who conducted operations at the store from July, 2014 to Sep., 2015, also found it fishy that customers of the Euclid Market would often leave the store without any purchases at all despite making transactions that were sometimes worth hundreds of dollars.
As is usually the case in these matters the owners of the Euclid Market also were alleged to have failed to report much of their income to the IRS.