Update on those Somali brothers who ran Michigan food stamp scam
Posted by Ann Corcoran on October 25, 2010
I first told you about this story in August, here.
What interests me about the news about their guilty plea a week ago is that this food stamp scam story went beyond local news outlets. I’ve been following these cases for several years and they rarely go beyond local newspapers or local TV stations. This story is at Business Week and I’ve seen it elsewhere as well.
Two brothers from Somalia who were accused of $400,000 in food stamp fraud and of illegally transferring money overseas from their western Michigan store pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges, prosecutors said.
Mohamed and Omar Sufi, owners of the Halal Depot store in Grand Rapids, redeemed electronic food stamps for cash and nonfood items, taking 30 percent commissions, the government said. The men were accused of taking up to 50 percent from benefits under the Women, Infants and Children programs.
Prosecutors said the brothers wired thousands of dollars through an unlicensed money transfer business known as a “hawala.” The money went to the Middle East and Africa, and the men charged a commission of 6 percent to 7 percent, prosecutors said.
The brothers deliberately kept transactions below $10,000 so that financial institutions would not file currency transactions reports to the Internal Revenue Service, the men admitted in their plea agreement.
When those Somali ‘voters’ in Columbus, Ohio whined about not being able to easily send money to Somalia, they have only their fellow Somalis to blame for restrictions. However, I don’t know why they are complaining. This case demonstrates it’s pretty easy for Somalis to wire money—-your tax dollars—to the rest of the world.
For new readers: We have admitted well over 100,000 Somali refugees to the US. To check out the numbers visit this post, probably our most widely read post over the last few years. In FY2010 which ended September 30th the US State Department resettled 4,884 Somalis (here) to towns near you.
Also, after being closed for nearly two years, the US State Department is on the verge of resuming the fraud-ridden family reunification program that admitted as many as 36,000 Somalis fraudulently to the US between 2003 and 2008. See the latest on new regulations, here.
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