Arkansas Food Stamp Fraud Bust Reveals Some Clever Twists on the Common Scam

You probably saw this news last month.  I know I saw it in several places because more news outlets have come to discover this type of fraud usually involving convenience stores and those Mom & Pop gas stations with the small grocery attached.

(Last year CNS News published a very useful report about how most SNAP fraud occurs in small grocery stores/convenience stores.***)

we accept snap
Last summer USA Today published the top 25 Food Stamp use cities in America. Some will surprise you! Have a look:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/economy/2018/07/25/snap-benefits-cities-with-most-people-on-food-stamps/37017367/

I suspect the prevalence of “new Americans” behind the counters of these small stores has something to do with the E-2 investor visa our government gives out regularly to foreign ‘investors.’

See the list of countries from which we are importing new American businessmen.

With an investment sometimes less than $100,000 a Pakistani, for instance, can buy a small store with the help of US lawyers who walk them through the process of getting in here with an investor visa.

Seriously search E-2 investor visa and you will find pages of law firms advertising their prowess in getting immigrants set up in business.

But many of the new American entrepreneurs aren’t willing to wait to build up their enterprises the old fashioned way, they have become experts at ripping off the US taxpayer—like these crooks who plead guilty in Arkansas last month.

From the Arkansas Democrat Gazette,

3 guilty pleas entered to food-stamp fraud in Arkansas

 

Raja Khani Zaman and his son Haroon pleaded guilty Wednesday before Western Arkansas Chief U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes III to conspiracy to traffic in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [food stamps] benefits, conspiracy to commit money laundering and filing false income-tax returns.

Another man, Ahmed Zaman, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in food-stamp program benefits.

After the plea hearings, all three were released on $5,000 signature bonds. Sentencing will follow completion of a presentence investigation.

They face up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the food-stamp trafficking charge, 20 years and a fine up to $500,000 on the money-laundering charge, and up to three years and a fine up to $100,000 on the tax-return charge.

More complex tricks! 

Rather than the usual method of simply buying benefits from a customer desperate for cash at the going rate of 50 cents on the dollar, the Zamans used a variety of schemes to turn your money in to their money.

The plea agreements listed multiple ways in which the men violated the food-stamp program. They would allow beneficiaries to use their food-stamp cards to buy items prohibited under the program at twice the price of the items.

They would take beneficiaries, or send them, to other stores to use their cards to purchase items for resale in the Zamans’ convenience stores, then pay the recipients 50 cents cash for every dollar they spent.

The government said the Zamans committed money laundering by reselling products in their convenience stores that were purchased elsewhere for them by cooperating food-stamp recipients, according to court records.

Continue reading here.

Just so you know the person selling his or her benefits is also in legal jeopardy and I am beginning to see cases where they are prosecuted too.

That’s enough for now, I’ve given you some previews of what we will be discussing going forward as these kinds of cases are busted by the feds.

***Here is the chart from the CNS story I mentioned above. Note that the vast majority of food stamp fraud occurs in small groceries and convenience stores.

 

chart of small grocery fraud

question markI’ve been following food stamp fraud stories for years, click here at RRW and you will see some incredible ones that make these Arkansas scammers look like amateurs.
Almost never is a photo available of the perps. Why is that I wonder?

 

 

 

Delaware: Largest “Known” Food Stamp Fraud Bust in State’s History

That is what the Associated Press reported yesterday when announcing that a Wilmington Convenience Store owner is headed to the slammer.

snap fraud posters
A state by state list of where to report suspected food stamp fraud is here:  https://www.fns.usda.gov/report-nutrition-assistance-fraud-state

New American, Debasish Muhuri, has been sentenced to 14 months and was ordered to repay US taxpayers $1.7 million in restitution for bilking the SNAP program.

According to the AP, he used the standard practice for stealing from the food stamp program which was designed to feed poor people, but instead is now used regularly by crooks running convenience stores and their patrons looking for easy cash.

Here is what AP said at Delaware Online:

 

Muhuri and his wife owned the “Mama” and “Mama Convenient/Uniform” stores in Wilmington.

Authorities say that between 2014 and 2017, Muhuri illegally bought customers’ food stamps for cash, normally paying only half of their value.

He then redeemed the benefits at full value from the government and pocketed the difference.

 

I’ve been following these schemes off and on for nearly 12 years after I became aware of  the fraud in the county where I live. That store owner, Mohammad Khan, was ultimately arrested and sentenced to time in prison as well as ordered to pay restitution.

However, the jail time is usually short and I’ve never seen a case where the convicted scammer was deported.

I have dozens and dozens of posts at Refugee Resettlement Watch about food stamp fraud. Click here if you want to see some doozies.

A favorite story from 2011

One of my all time favorites was this one from Waukegan, Wisconsin back in 2011. The story was reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, but as expected, that story is no longer available so it’s a good thing I captured some of it.

The crooks, Khaled Saleh, 46, and Fatima Saleh, 35 were arrested after Fatima tried to make a run for it with a suitcase full of cash while dragging her mother behind her.

 

After a north suburban couple’s grocery was searched during a food stamp and nutrition program fraud investigation, the woman was caught trying to flee with more than $350,000 in a suitcase, federal prosecutors claim.

The couple, who own and operate Sunset Food Market in Waukegan, allegedly defrauded the federal food stamp and nutrition programs of more than $500,000 over the last two years, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

[….]

Agents executed a search warrant at Sunset Market on April 26. After the search, Fatima Saleh went to her apartment and agents observed her leaving a short time later with a suitcase and her mother, the release said.

 

The Salehs used the same method as Khan had done where I live, and Delaware’s Debasish Muhuri did recently.

Customer with SNAP benefits comes in and wants cash. He or she sells benefits at 50 cents on the dollar. Customer walks away with cash (often for drug money!) and the manager/owner submits the full dollar for reimbursement by the government (well, by you and me, the taxpayers).

Reporter Katherine Rodriguiz at Breitbart recently cataloged her top nine food stamp fraud stories from 2018, here.  But, you need to follow links back to see the names of the perps.

question markSo, again, why are we kept in the dark about Debasish Muhuri’s nationality and immigration status? Is he here legally? And, if so through which legal program did he become a new American? If we knew how these criminal minds were entering the US, maybe we could fix the loopholes.