A Shakopee man has been charged in federal court with one felony count of food stamp fraud.
According to the charging document, Chin Son Kim, 47, fraudulently used food stamps during the period of November, 2010 through July, 2012.
The document lays out a complicated scheme in which Kim allegedly waited outside a charity in St. Paul and other locations, looking for food stamp recipients he could recruit to provide him with EBT cards, the plastic cards that carry food stamp benefits. After collecting a card, Kim would go to a cooperating local market.
There, the grocer would swipe the card through a food stamp reader, as if a legitimate transaction had occurred. However, the grocer would provide Kim with cash or store credit. It is illegal to exchange food stamps for cash or ineligible merchandise.
Afterwards, Kim would allegedly return the card to its rightful owner, providing that person with a portion of the cash.
According to an earlier search warrant affidavit, Kim sought the EBT cards outside homeless shelters, including the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Kim's actions cost the food stamp program $29,816. If convicted, Kim faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
Twin Cities attorney Joe Friedberg, who is representing Kim, declined to comment on the case.
Federal officials say food stamp fraud is rare.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that nationally 1 percent of food benefits are lost to trafficking.
The USDA is aggressively pursuing grocers that participate in food stamp fraud.