Los Angeles: In early September, the Southern California High Tech Task Force comprised of members from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Investigation – Cyber Crime Section, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Fraud and Cyber Crimes Unit, and the Los Angeles Police Department, Commercial Crimes Division, in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, conducted an operation to combat the crime problem of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Fraud. For some time now, suspects have been stealing the private account information of California’s EBT card holders. These suspects then create illegal cloned cards encoded with that victim account information and conduct large cash withdrawals from the victims’ accounts at ATM machines throughout Los Angeles County and the entire State of California, causing millions of dollars in losses to federal, state, and local taxpayers. The Task Force worked in conjunction with the California Department of Social Services, Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, and multiple financial institutions led by Bank of America’s Global Protective Services Team, to identify the locations in Los Angeles County where suspects were committing the majority of these crimes.
An operation was conducted by the Task Force and members of the Los Angeles Police Department to address the high target areas in Los Angeles County. That operation led to the arrest of 16 suspects, and the seizure of 339 illegally cloned EBT cards, and $106,269 in cash. Task Force Investigators intend to further investigate these suspects and any links to additional suspects and crimes related to this criminal enterprise. Felony criminal filings by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Cyber Crimes Division are pending against each of the suspects arrested during this recent operation.
Los Angeles was one of several counties that participated in this statewide effort to combat EBT Fraud. Our success was only possible through the extensive cooperation of multiple law enforcement agencies, state and county Social Services, and Bank of America’s Global Protective Services Team.
As we continue to seek out additional suspects, anyone with information about these incidents or the identity of additional suspects is asked to call the Southern California High Tech Task Force, Detective Feeney at (818) 576-8860, or (818) 374-9420. During non-business hours or on the weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.