SACRAMENTO – California Department of Justice special agents have arrested a man for allegedly operating a $750,000 Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) fraud scheme throughout California. Special agents arrested Jawuan Antonio Gibson on May 2, 2019. He was booked in the Los Angeles County jail.
Upon his arrest, agents seized $20,000 in cash. On May 15, 2019, special agents searched Gibson’s hotel residence and recovered $950,000 in cash. Special agents also recovered two cash counting machines, computers, ATM card readers and encoders, numerous ATM cards, SIM cards and prepaid phone cards.
The EBT system helps provide working families with public assistance benefits, such as CalFresh, CalWORKs, and other food and cash aid benefits. Gibson allegedly solicited personal information from EBT card holders through scam text messages. He then used their personal information to create cloned EBT cards in order to withdraw thousands of dollars in funds from ATM machines.
The complaint, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, brings two counts of grand theft and one count of grand theft of access cards issued to four or more persons. It alleges that Gibson targeted 655 individuals throughout California and pocketed $750,000. Investigators believe that between November 1, 2018 and May 2, 2019, Gibson targeted victims by sending text messages asking for personal information – such as birth date, social security number and the PIN associated with their EBT cards – in order to verify their benefits. Once the victims provided the information, investigators believe Gibson used it to create duplicates of the victims’ EBT cards and then used the duplicates to withdraw funds from ATM machines.
The arrest and charges are the result of an investigation by the California Department of Justice’s White Collar Investigation Team and the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance.
“This case involves stealing from those in need and from all of us who pay our taxes,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “It’s alleged that he scammed three-quarters of a million dollars in six months! This case serves as a reminder not to share your personal identifying information over text messages or to anyone who solicits it. Thank you to the special agents who investigated this case and the prosecutors who will present this case in court.”