News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases

Shakopee man charged with fraudulently using food stamps

April 19, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court, a 47-year-old Shakopee man was charged via an Information with fraudulently using other people’s food stamps. On April 18, 2013, Chin Son Kim was specifically charged with one count of food stamp fraud.

The charging document provided that between November 2010 and July 2012, Kim obtained Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (“SNAP”) cards, commonly known as food stamps, from the recipients of those benefits. To that end, Kim waited near a charity facility in St. Paul, as well as at other locations, approaching people from whom he might acquire the SNAP cards.

After garnering a card, Kim would go to cooperating local markets, where he would use the card in an unauthorized manner. Typically, Kim would present the card to the grocer, who would swipe it through a food-stamp scanner, routinely noting a transaction of approximately $200. Kim would then receive cash, groceries, or store credit in that amount. Afterwards, he would return the card to its rightful owner, providing that person with cash in the amount of approximately half the transaction total. The loss to the SNAP program because of Kim’s action is estimated to be $29,816.

Each individual who receives SNAP benefits is issued an electronic benefit transfer (“EBT”) card, which contains a monthly allocated benefit amount that can be used at authorized retailers. The United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) then reimburses those retailers for the benefit amounts redeemed. Only eligible food items may be acquired with food stamps, and some items, such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and cell phone minutes. Moreover, food stamps may not be redeemed for cash.

If convicted, Kim faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge. This case is the result of an investigation by the USDA-Office of Inspector General, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, and the St. Paul Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Steinkamp.

A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.

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