July 17, 2013
By Julie Montanaro
A Tallahassee man is accused of food stamp fraud and the state says his scheme could have cost taxpayers more than $20,000.
Arrest papers say it all started with a mail carrier who noticed a rash of envelopes with the Department of Children and Families logo arriving at the Kingston Square Apartments.
Tallahassee Police say Ricardo Gonzalez was applying for benefits and having the EBT cards delivered to the complex.
"He was applying for cards using fraudulent names, so he's calling up saying he's someone who he is not and asking for the cards to be delivered which is obviously against the law," TPD Spokesman David Northway said.
Arrest reports say there is surveillance video of him using the EBT cards at a Winn Dixie, a Publix and the Stop and Shop on Brevard Street right next to the apartment here he lives.
Tallahassee Police have charged him with public assistance fraud and grand theft in connection with three cards and a potential loss of $3600.
Yet the Department of Children and Families has connected Gonzalez to many more bogus applications.
"In this particular instance, we were actually able to identify 21 cases and prevented about $23,000 in losses," said Amanda Huston, Director of the Office of Public Benefits Integrity.
Huston says mass mailings to specific addresses, like the complex on Van Buren Street, are usually flagged by their computer system.
Tallahassee Police say six of the names Gonzalez used to apply for benefits were folks in jail or prison.