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Fresno County Social Services Worker Charged With Stealing Nearly 100K
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By Anya Ellis, Berkeley Correspondent
Published 2 weeks ago on
June 4, 2024

Authorities said on Tuesday, June 3, 2024, that a former Fresno County Department of Social Services worker had been charged with identity theft. She allegedly ripped off nearly $100,000 in cash and food benefits from EBT recipient accounts. (Shutterstock)

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A former county Department of Social Services employee has been charged with theft, allegedly stealing nearly $100,000, and could face serious jail time.

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office alleged that Desiree Henriette Ortiz, 40, of Fresno accessed EBT recipients’ information and altered account passwords to steal cash and food benefits.

An internal DSS audit triggered the DA’s investigation into Ortiz’s activities, authorities said on Tuesday.

Ortiz faces 14 counts spanning from December 2022 to November 2023. This includes one count of computer access and fraud and 13 counts of identity theft.

If convicted of all charges, Ortiz is looking at a maximum sentence of 11 years and 8 months in local custody.

She is set to appear in Fresno County Superior Court on Wednesday, July 10, and will be prosecuted by the DA’s Public Integrity Unit.

“DSS remains vigilant in executing protocols that help detect fraud and will not tolerate any actions that put clients’ information at risk. DSS will do everything necessary to assist the DA in any investigation and prosecution of welfare fraud,” county officials said in a statement. “DSS employees are dedicated public servants who serve the most vulnerable populations with the utmost integrity.”

Fraud Prevention Tips

• Keep your PIN and card number a secret.
• Do not click on any links from text messages regarding your EBT account.
• Watch out for suspicious websites.
• Protect your benefits. Change your habits and keep track of your balances daily.
• Check your receipt after each purchase.

If you suspect fraud, contact the Welfare Fraud hotline at (559) 600-3763.

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Anya Ellis,
Reporter/Researcher
Anya Ellis began working for GV Wire in July 2023. The daughter of journalists, Anya is a Fresno native and Buchanan High School graduate. She is currently at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in film and media studies and minoring in creative writing. She plans to pursue her masters in screenwriting after graduating. You can contact Anya at anya.ellis@gvwire.com.

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