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CFO Atwater Announces Food Stamp Fraud Scheme Operation “Cash for Cards”


For Immediate Release:
March 30, 2016

Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413 – 2842

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of two Orlando residents, Eurick Fenot Jr. and Quinteria Williams, for their roles in an extensive public assistance fraud scheme. By filing hundreds of online applications for public assistance benefits using stolen identities, the pair is accused of allegedly receiving nearly $200,000 in fraudulent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamp benefits. During a law enforcement operation known as “Operation Cash for Cards,” investigators with the Department of Financial Services’ Divisions of Public Assistance Fraud and Insurance Fraud joined with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to execute search warrants at the pair’s Orlando-area residence this morning.

“Today, two criminals found themselves exactly where they belong and that’s behind bars,” said CFO Jeff Atwater. “By stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in public assistance benefits, they’ve stolen from the state of Florida and from every Florida taxpayer whose tax dollars support critical safety net programs. With their arrests, I hope a message is sent to other criminals who may wish to engage in similar crimes—Florida will not tolerate fraud in any shape or form.”

“Any public assistance monies siphoned away in a fraud and identity scheme from families and children in need is a crime against our entire community,” said OCSO Chief Deputy Larry Zwieg. “We stand together with CFO Atwater to pursue and arrest those responsible and bring them to justice.”

This yearlong investigation began when the Florida Department of Children and Families alerted the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Public Assistance Fraud to a possible scam in which an individual or individuals were suspected of filling out large numbers of applications in the Orlando area.

"We applaud the efforts of CFO Atwater’s team and all of our partners in holding these individuals accountable for defrauding the state and robbing from taxpayers,“ said DCF’s Director of the Office of Public Benefit Integrity Andrew McClenahan. “DCF is committed to ensuring the integrity of the public benefits system by making sure that benefits only go to eligible Floridians and we will continue to steadfastly pursue every effort in detecting and preventing these crimes.”

“Our Economic Crimes Unit was organized to prosecute cases that may involve major fraud, such as this case, and impact innocent people,” said State Attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton. “We have been working diligently with the Department of Financial Services and other agencies on this case and believe the courts will resolve this matter appropriately.”

A subsequent investigation led by the Division of Public Assistance Fraud and the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud uncovered a complex scam in which Fenot and Williams completed nearly 800 applications using the stolen identities of 684 different people. The pair used a network of Orlando area addresses to collect their cards, and later enlisted the assistance of an Apopka grocery store to convert their electronic benefits into cash.  The United States Department of Agriculture has since launched an investigation into the alleged illegal activities of this grocery store.

Fenot and Williams were arrested today and booked into the Orange County Jail with charges of Public Assistance Fraud, Organized Scheme to Defraud, Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information, Grand Theft of More Than $100,000, Aggravated White Collar Crime and Racketeering.

This case will be prosecuted by the Office of State Attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton and if convicted, Fenot and Williams could each face up to 30 years in prison.

Chief Financial Officer 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. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).