Food Stamp fraud cropping up everywhere
Posted by Ann Corcoran on February 6, 2008
As I mentioned in my previous posts on Food Stamp fraud, this doesn’t have anything to do with refugees. Although refugee food stamp useage is increasing and more than half of all refugees use food stamps, we hope they are all using taxpayers’ funds to feed themselves and their families. I suspect they may, however, be susceptible to the temptation of turning food stamps into cash via the increasing number of small convenience stores like the one we have in Hagerstown, MD that was recently raided by Federal agents and where local police arrested the owner for suspicion of selling drug parapharnalia.
Thanks to Janet Levy we learned that there has been another Food Stamp scam bust in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Three men connected with Twins Market and Meats in St. Paul have been ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution for fraudulently redeeming food stamps.
Store owner Anwar Sarama, 32, of Bloomington, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and store manager Soud Salem, 46, of Farmington, was sentenced to 36 months in prison.
Both men were ordered to pay a total of $757,320.66 in restitution.
Store employee Amjud Musleh, 28, of Bloomington, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $402,302.91 in restitution.
We followed up and obtained a press release from the US Attorney’s Office in Minnesota and it reported that under the previous owners of the store the average monthly food stamp redemptions ran around $9,000 a month. Under the new owners sentenced above, Anwar Sarama, Soud Salem, and Amjud Musleh, the redemptions gradually increased until they reached $100,000 a month. That’s a lot of bread and milk!
St. Paul Police Dept. Commander Dave Korus said, “Joint operations such as these work to not only bring people to justice for criminal acts, but also bring peace back to the neighborhood. This store was a seat for criminal activity….”
Bottomline, if you have a convenience store in your neighborhood getting some heavy traffic, keep an eye on it and report anything suspicious to authorities.
We are going to follow-up with this and attempt to learn the immigration status of those sentenced.
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