Nov 10, 2011 10:04 PM by Ariel Wesler
It's an unusual case for prosecutors. The Solvang woman accused of trying to buy a car using food stamps appeared in a Santa Maria courtroom Thursday.
22-year-old Krystal wood is being charged with felony welfare fraud. Her arraignment today was pushed back until November 15th, so she can get an attorney. Wood was arrested on Tuesday and remains in custody at the Santa Barbara County Jail on $20,000 bail.
The Santa Barbara County DA's office says the number of cases is increasing as more people rely on welfare in this tough economy.
County prosecutors investigate hundreds of welfare fraud cases each year, but this case is a bit peculiar.
"This lady is accused of trying to exchange food stamps for a car," said SB County Chief Deputy DA Jerry Lulejian.
While it may sound humorous, it's a crime prosecutors take very seriously.
"They're investigated by the special investigations unit, which only deals with welfare fraud," said Welfare Investigator Patrick Adams.
Last month, 22-year-old Krystal Wood allegedly posted an ad on Craig's list. Someone tipped off investigators. Prosecutors filed a complaint. According to investigators, the woman agreed to buy a hundred dollars worth of groceries each month for the next year in exchange for the $1200 vehicle. The only problem? She was bargaining with a fraud investigator.
They had set up a sting at the Albertsons in Buellton, where wood went shopping and they arrested her. They say more common cases of welfare fraud include underreporting income to qualify and people claiming money for children.
"In reality, the child's not actually living in the home, so the recipient would be collecting the funds for that child and the child wouldn't be receiving any of the funds," Adams said. "You might not get caught that day. You might not get caught that month or even that year, but down the road, you will get caught, and that paper trail will tie you right to it."
According to court records, in May, Wood was previously charged with driving without a license and not having proof or registration or insurance.
The DA's office encourages anyone with information on this case or other types of welfare fraud to call their Welfare Fraud tip-line at 346-7134.
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