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FILE: A supermarket displays stickers indicating they accept food stamps in West New York, N.J., Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(Harrisburg) — A state agency tasked with investigating waste, fraud, and abuse in government programs says it disrupted a nearly $25,000 public benefit trafficking scheme in Harrisburg.

The Office of State Inspector General has charged three Harrisburg residents with buying SNAP benefit cards–also known as food stamps–from recipients for pennies on the dollar, then using those cards to buy inventory for the store where they worked.

Investigators say a married couple, Milciades Jiminez and Marylenny Acosta, bought and used 88 different electronic benefit cards with a total value of more than $24,000 between January 2015 and April 2018.

They say the couple would buy the cards from recipients either at a discounted cash value or in exchange for store credit. Then they used the full value of the cards to buy bulk inventory for their mini market at an area wholesale club store.

A third person, Ramona Acosta, is also charged for allegedly using nine cards to buy supplies for a different store during the same period.

The three are charged with fraudulent traffic in food orders and conspiracy. Each count carries a maximum seven-year prison sentence and a $15,000 fine.