US NRI store owner indicted for food stamps fraud

Convenience store owner Bharpur Singh, 39, of California, has been indicted by a federal jury for defrauding the US Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme, (SNAP) formerly known as food stamps. Singh owns and operates a convenience store that was authorised to accept SNAP benefits from customers to pay for eligible food items through the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card programme. Retailers are strictly prohibited from taking cash for SNAP benefits or accepting SNAP benefits as payment for ineligible items. From 2008 to May 2014, Singh traded the benefits for cash rather than for eligible food products when he would swipe a SNAP benefit recipient's EBT card for a certain amount, give the recipient cash for approximately half the amount of the transaction and keep the other half for himself. On numerous occasions he accepted SNAP benefits as payment for illegible items like beer, cigarettes, toys, etc. If convicted Singh faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each wire fraud count, as well as five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count of unauthorised use of USDA benefits.