CHATHAM COUNTY, GA -
Eighty-eight men and women have been indicted for their alleged roles in a massive fraud scheme involving federal food assistance benefits. Fifty- four of those indicted are accused of opening around a dozen phony grocery stores and through them buying recipients WIC and food stamp benefits - paying pennies on the dollar in cash.
The indictment alleges the purchasers would then redeem the full value of the benefits. Authorities say the fraud, which occurred in a number of communities across the state, amounted to over 18-million dollars.Some of those who allegedly sold their benefits have also been charged.Seventy of the 88 defendants have been taken into custody.The stores - including one in Savannah and one in Garden City - have been shut down.