Thirteen people were arrested for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from low-income Southern California residents.
The suspects stole funds using card skimmers and ATMs to drain electronic benefit transfer (EBT) accounts, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
EBT cards allow participants to pay for food using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps.
On April 25, authorities received a community tip about fraud and identity theft suspects residing at a Van Nuys motel on the 4700 block of Sepulveda Boulevard.
With a search warrant, police recovered skimming devices, card readers, a large number of false identification cards and documents and $36,062 in cash.
Investigators believe the suspects may be part of a Romanian syndicate known to “target persons experiencing economic hardship for their EBT cards.”
The group allegedly stole millions of dollars every month from Californians with EBT accounts, officials said.
The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information about this incident or additional suspects is asked to call Detective Casciani at 818-374-9420.
The public can also call the LAPD at 1-877-527-3247. Anonymous tips can be provided to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or by sending a text to 274637. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”
Back in March 2023, 15 suspected Romanian nationals were also arrested for stealing over $38 million from low-income SoCal families. The suspects stole funds disbursed through CalWORKs and CalFresh programs using cloned EBT cards from skimming devices at ATMs.