Ofc. Teresa Fuller
Thursday, December 4, 2014 at Midnight
Spokane Police Department detectives, working alongside investigators from the Washington State Department of Social Health Services (DSHS) Office of Fraud and Accountability, served search warrants on the owners of a vending machine business suspected of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card fraud.
The suspects are accused of paying EBT recipients cash for benefits received through the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and then using those benefits to purchase goods for their vending machine business.
The situation came to light last summer after the Spokane Police Department met with a group of local retailers and discussed organized retail theft and benefits fraud. Shortly after, loss prevention investigators from a local retailer found information indicating possible EBT fraud at their Spokane area stores.
The loss prevention investigators contacted SPD and DSHS about the possible fraud. Investigators from both agencies suspect that within four months the suspects spent several thousand dollars in EBT funds, using more than 20 different EBT cards at just one retailer in our area.
The suspects, 68-year-old Kathleen A. Hagy and 71-year-old Charles A. Hagy, allegedly purchased, or enlisted others to purchase, chips, soda, and other vending machine inventory to supply 22 vending machines throughout the Spokane area. The search warrants served today were on the Hagys’ business, vehicles and residences. Investigators will also be seizing vehicles allegedly involved to transport the goods and the vending machines that were stocked with the fraudulently purchased items.
This case is the culmination of local retailers, the Spokane Police Department and DSHS working collaboratively to prevent and investigate fraud.
Suspected fraud (EBT and other types of fraud) should be reported to law enforcement via Crime Check at 456.2233.
Officer John O'Brien