Attorney General Becerra Announces Arrest, Charges Against Individual for $750,000 Electronic Benefit Transfer Fraud Scheme Throughout California
SACRAMENTO - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the arrest of Jawuan Antonio Gibson for allegedly operating a $750,000 Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) fraud scheme across California. The EBT system helps provide working families with public assistance benefits, such as CalFresh, CalWORKs, and other food and cash aid benefits. The charges allege that Gibson 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.
On May 2, 2019, Gibson was arrested and booked in the Los Angeles County jail. Upon his arrest, agents seized $20,000 in cash. On May 15, 2019, California Department of Justice agents searched Gibson’s hotel residence and recovered $950,000 in cash. Agents also recovered two cash counting machines, computers, ATM card readers and encoders, numerous ATM cards, SIM cards and prepaid phone cards.
“We have zero tolerance for individuals who steal from innocent victims through fraudulent means,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This type of reckless behavior harms taxpayers and vulnerable Californians who rely on public assistance. My office will continue to identify, investigate, and prosecute individuals who prey on victims in order to line their own pockets.”
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 the defendant targeted 655 individuals across 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.
It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.