103 arrest warrants out for social welfare fraud

1:51 PM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
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One of the 39 people arrested so far in the EBT fraud bust.

Manatee County, Florida -- The Manatee County Sheriff's Office have 103 arrest warrants out for the use of fraudulent electronic benefits transfer cards. 

The undercover operation began as an investigation into the use of fraudulent Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Cards.

The operation was conducted in two parts. Part one involved the investigation and arrest of Gerald Millas on December 12, 2012, for felony social welfare fraud.  

Reportedly, Millas was buying EBT cards from various subjects in the area for 50 to 60 cents on the dollar. He would then use the cards to purchase food for his three pizza restaurants in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Detectives have arrest warrants for 48 subjects who sold their EBT cards to Millas. 

Part two of the investigation began in January 10, 2013, and involved undercover detectives purchasing EBT cards for 50 to 60 cents on the dollar. The normal purchase would be a $200 card for $120.  It's believed the subjects selling the cards would use the cash to purchase drugs and/or alcohol. Detectives obtained arrest warrants for 55 subjects.  

During the operation, the Sheriff's Office purchased EBT cards totaling nearly $9,000.  Since the cards could not be turned in, they were used to purchase baby formula which was given to the Food Bank of Manatee County. 

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