4OYS uncovers food stamp fraud in Farmington

Posted at: 04/25/2013 9:32 PM
Updated at: 04/25/2013 10:36 PM
By: Gadi Schwartz and Shaun Griswold, KOB 4 On Your Side

In an unassuming little mom and pop shop on a side road in Farmington, investigators say hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food stamps were being siphoned from a program to feed needy families and turned into cash.

Uniformed officers arrested the owners of the shop, Miguel Solis and his wife Ana Montano-Solis, on a federal indictment for food stamp fraud.

"Any time the public and the citizens are defrauded we take that serious," said Farmington Police Corporal David Karst.

According to the indictment, the couple used their EBT card reader at the store to swipe EBT cards, also know as food stamp cards, to access money meant to be used to buy food.

The indictment also shows the couple was conducting transactions that paid 50 cents for every government dollar provided for food stamp benefits.

Miguel Solis said he didn't know what was going on as he was taken to the police car.

When asked about the allegations of food stamp fraud, Solis said he didn't know what his wife was doing and claimed that the money had gone to pay bills.

Anna Montano-Solis declined to comment.

A sign outside the Valencia Trading Post read EBT welcome, but inside a posting said they were not accepting EBT's.

An employee there said he had not seen the EBT card reader in operation since he began working there over a month ago and said he knew nothing of the buying or selling of food stamp benefits.

This isn't the first time KOB Eyewitness News 4 has exposed food stamps being bought or sold for half their worth.

Back in February, the Four On Your Side team went undercover to expose a black market for food stamps in Albuquerque where benefits were also being traded for half their worth.

The state is looking into how much it would cost to put picture ID's on EBT cards to minimize EBT fraud and abuse.

The couple will be arraigned in Federal Court in Albuquerque on Friday.