To seven women employed by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, it must have seemed like the perfect crime – using their positions to create fictitious accounts for non-existent recipients, issue Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to them, and then intercept them to use themselves or sell on the black market.

The state’s Attorney General Matt Denn made the announcement following the filing of charges against the women that came about after the DHSS’s Audit and Recovery Management Services uncovered the massive fraud ring.

The audit found that the group received $959,000 in sham benefits, although it is impossible to determine how much each of the women profited from the sale of the cards.

The employees, women ranging in age from Shirlene Davis, 29, to Jo Ellen Edwards, 61, were charged with theft over $100,000, first degree forgery, falsifying business records, and official misconduct.

Two women, Allison Rivera, 49, and Angelette Brown, 45,  have already been convicted and sentenced to two years of probation and payments in restitution, while two more remain at large.

EBT cards are issued by states to residents qualifying for food benefits, and the debit-like plastic replaced food stamps in an effort to remove the stigma of using the stamps, and make transferring the funds from the state to the recipient automatic and less prone to error, but the digital system has been much more open to fraud.

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