Thirteen people have been arrested for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from low-income Southern California residents, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The suspects are accused of using card skimmers and ATMs to drain electronic benefit transfer (EBT) accounts, which are used to pay for food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The police department received a community tip on April 25 about fraud and identity theft suspects residing at a Van Nuys motel on the 4700 block of Sepulveda Boulevard. Following a search warrant, authorities recovered skimming devices, card readers, a large number of false identification cards and documents, and $36,062 in cash.
Investigators believe that the suspects may be part of a Romanian syndicate known to “target persons experiencing economic hardship for their EBT cards.” The group allegedly stole millions of dollars every month from Californians with EBT accounts.
According to LAPD’s press release, the investigation is ongoing. However, this is not the first time such a crime has been committed in the area. Back in March 2023, 15 suspected Romanian nationals were also arrested for stealing over $38 million from low-income SoCal families.
The suspects stole funds disbursed through CalWORKs and CalFresh programs using cloned EBT cards from skimming devices at ATMs.