CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrest of Miami Resident for Identity Theft and Public Assistance Fraud
Contact: Chris Cate
(850) 413- 2842
TALLAHASSEE – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Caribe Evans, 36, for using stolen identities to steal more than $30,000 in taxpayer-funded food assistance benefits. The charges follow a two-year investigation into Evans’ U.S. Department of Agriculture vendor-approved shell company, Green Thumb Farmers Market. Evans was found to be using the business to steal public assistance benefits with Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards that he had fraudulently obtained with stolen identities.
“I’m proud of our team of investigators for holding crooks accountable when they steal from Florida taxpayers and particularly when it involves stealing money intended for families who need public assistance to make ends meet,” said CFO Atwater. “Fraud will not be tolerated on my watch.”
The investigation, led by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Public Assistance Fraud, found that Evans created Green Thumb Farmers Market to gain access to the business-issued Point of Sale card reader to traffic fraudulently obtained EBT cards. Investigators believe Evans’ stole at least 46 identities with victims as far away as California.
Evans’ scheme was uncovered when an employee in the Department of Children and Families’ Office of Public Benefits Integrity noticed dozens of EBT cases led back to the same address. Evans was booked into the Broward County jail and faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
# # #
Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government; reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses; and providing transparency and accountability in spending.