Texas Man Sentenced for $2.6 Million Food Stamp Theft Across North Texas

Texas Man Sentenced for $2.6 Million Food Stamp Theft Across North Texas

Federal prosecutors report that a guy who acknowledged using a food stamp scheme to swindle thousands of people has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

James Peabody, 34, was sentenced on Tuesday after entering a guilty plea in August to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to officials. The crime was described as “one of the most disturbing schemes” the judge overseeing the case had seen in his tenure as a judge.

Low-income families can get food and home necessities subsidized through the SNAP program, which is funded by federal taxes. Electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, cards are typically used by SNAP program participants to make purchases of food and home necessities.

“I can only imagine the devastation these victims felt at the cash register when they attempted to pay for their groceries and discovered their accounts had been emptied,” U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton stated.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Saybah Keihn, 48, and Margretta Jabbeh, 43, were also involved in the scam. Both have entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to officials, Peabody, Keihn, and Jabbeh obtained SNAP merchant licenses and opened multiple African food outlets.

According to court records, they then utilized EBT cards loaded with information from stolen SNAP accounts, which was obtained unlawfully by installing so-called “skimming” devices at point-of-sale terminals in retail locations around the nation.

The bogus benefit transfer cards would be taken by the con artists, who would then use them at their own supermarkets.

The attorney’s office stated in a news statement on Wednesday, “As a result of the scheme, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which administrates SNAP) deposited more than $2.6 million in bank accounts associated with their stores.”

According to the news release, other scam victims gave testimony during the Tuesday sentence session. One of the victims claimed she had to start eating from dumpsters. “For looking into my case when no one else seemed to care,” a victim thanked the FBI.

Keihn received a prison sentence of 108 months, while Jabbeh received a sentence of 129 months.

Together with the Bedford, Blue Mound, Euless, and North Richland Hills police departments, the USDA Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office-Fort Worth Resident Agency carried out the investigation.