Federal warrant served on Hay Meat Market

hay meat market, ocala news, ebt fraud, marion county news, food stamp fraud, ocala post
Marcia Mason

Ocala, Florida — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that they had completed a nearly 4-year-long investigation into the Hay Meat Market, located at 3334 Northwest Blitchton Road, Ocala.

The Hay Meat Market opened for business in 2008. A short time later, the business became authorized to accept food stamps, better known as EBT.

A federal search warrant for fraudulent EBT activity was executed at the location on March 4, 2017.

In the search warrant, USDA Agent Jeff Blackwell said that in 2008 the store redeemed $5,272 in EBT transactions. By January 2014, the amount had increased to $54,389 per month. By 2016, the store’s owner, Soriany Lim, had redeemed $1,718,400 in EBT transactions.

According to reports, the meat market redeemed $891,459 more than the average store.

During the investigation, surveillance was conducted on the store and Agent Blackwell was able to monitor live transactions with the use of computer software.

After reviewing surveillance footage, Agent Blackwell observed a woman, later identified as Marcia Michelle Mason, 39, enter the store. Mason browsed the store, then approached the counter with a four pack of drinks. Mason’s EBT card was then debited for $749.99. Additionally, Mason visited the store twice on February 6, 2016, and charged $459.69 to her EBT.

The total for the two transactions totaled $1,209.68.

Each time, Lim handed the woman a brown paper bag. Lim later told investigators that she would place cash inside of brown paper bags and give it to the customer after each EBT transaction had been completed.

Investigators said that Lim had been paying customers 50 cents per dollar for EBT benefits.

Agent Blackwell made contact with Mason at her residence on July 1, 2016.

Initially, Mason stated, “I was not doing that.” She also threatened to “step to” Lim. Mason was then warned to stay away from the store.

Mason later confessed.

She was arrested on March 20, 2017, and charged with two counts of Welfare Fraud. She was released from the Marion County Jail on a $4,000 bond.

Lim is still under investigation. At this time, Hay Meat Market cannot process EBT transactions.

Agent Blackwell could not be reached for comment.

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  • HilleryLostHAHAHAHA

    scumbag thieves….20 years in jail should do the trick….LOCK HER UP!! LOCK HER UP!! LOCK HER UP!! LOCK HER UP!! LOCK HER UP!! LOCK HER UP!!

  • keith

    I hope they arrest everyone who made large purchases on their EBT card there. Should be a way to trace that. What a bunch of scum stealing from the rest of us. I wonder what they were buying with the cash instead of feeding their kids.

  • Ocala native

    This is the most abused system we have, EBT should be treated like WIC. There’s no reason someone on gubment assistance should be buying steak, lobster, candy, etc with OUR money.

  • Savvy

    Everyone that had something to do with it should be punished. The business itself for allowing customers to commit fraud. They are all guilty business employees and customers. Not just the customers.

  • Ms Betty

    First, that business should be shut down. Second, this Lim person should be prosecuted along with Mason for defrauding the taxpayers. Third, Mason should be thrown off all public assistance for life.

  • merleliz

    So…how much money did you let them steal from the taxpayers before you stopped them? You’ve known for two years they were committing fraud, and it took you TWO YEARS to step in? Really? Why on earth did you wait that long? They obviously aren’t all that bright…the fraud was blatant…what were you waiting for?

    • Boo Rosko

      merleliz There is this thing called the ‘law’. They have to be able to build a solid case, otherwise it could be thrown out of court.

  • andthatsnews

    Find a EBT merchant & you will find fraud guaranteed! They should regulate EBT cards like they do cash transactions under structuring laws.

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