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Man accused of trading tattoos for EBT benefits faces charges

Some North Carolina residents depend on food stamps to feed their families. Yet, it isn't uncommon to read that someone allegedly misused their government benefits in order to obtain items such as alcohol, cigarettes, lottery tickets or other non-food items. However, according to Raleigh authorities, food stamps have also been used by local residents recently to purchase something quite unusual: tattoos.

The fraudulent use of funds has fortunately decreased from 1 to 4 percent over the last 15 years, according to representatives from the Department of Agriculture. However, that doesn't mean that the agency isn't pursuing suspected white collar criminals aggressively.

Recently, the owner of Ink Addiction Tattooz in Raleigh was arrested and charged for conspiracy to obtain property under false pretenses and buying and distribution of food stamps.

Police investigators state that on four different occasions, the tattoo parlor accepted Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards in order to purchase the business’ body art. EBT cards are how food stamp benefits are distributed to qualified recipients.

Warrants reviewed by a local news network uncovered that on one occasion over $400 in EBT benefits was exchanged for inkwork. Records also stated that over the course of five visits, an informant for investigators obtained $600 in tattoos, using EBT benefits twice. On another occasion it was alleged that an EBT card worth just under $600 was exchanged for tattoo work valued at only $200.

Being charged with a crime, can not only lead to jail time and fines, but the accusation itself can negatively impact the profitability of a business. Seeking advice from a legal profession who understands the complexity of white collar crimes can provide the accused with valuable information about what legal options are available to them.

Source: Daily Caller, “Raleigh police make arrest in alleged food stamps for tattoos fraud,” Caroline May, Sept. 14, 2013

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