Seattle woman sent to prison for food stamp scam



SEATTLE (AP) — A 57-year-old Seattle woman has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution for taking part in a food stamp scam.

According to a release from the Seattle U.S. Attorney’s office, Cuc Thi-Kim Pham was a “runner” who would take a state-issued debit card to a cooperating store in Seattle’s International District, run it through the cash register and take cash out. Half of the money in the card would go to the card holder, and the other half would be split between Pham and the store. Pham worked this scam from 2009 to 2010.

One of Pham’s partners in the crime — Elsa Kwong of Seattle Chinese Herb and Grocery– pleaded guilty in 2010. Prosecutors say Kwong’s store had taken in $1.6 million more in food stamp money than it sold in food.