PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A former 7-Eleven franchisee in Rhode Island has been accused of taking food stamp benefits for cash at his Providence convenience store.

A complaint unsealed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Providence says 43-year-old Syed Shah charged an undercover investigator $60 in food stamps for $40 in cash. The complaint does not disclose how much investigators believe Shah fraudulently pocketed in food stamp benefits. Investigators say food stamp redemptions at his store skyrocketed from $228,000 in 2008 to nearly $1 million last year.

The Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Agriculture began its probe of Shah’s store in 2008.

The complaint says Shah told an investigator on Aug. 15 that an employee identified only as “S.K.” started giving cash back for food stamps in 2009. Investigators say the practice boosted business and Shah feared losing customers if he did not keep it up.Authorities say the average monthly food stamp redemption at Shah’s store was $69,025, compared with a combined average of $8,770 at the other five 7-Eleven franchises in the area.