Citizens’ complaints prompted authorities to investigate! That is often times what it takes—watchful community members blowing the whistle!
For new readers, food stamp fraud is a side interest of mine and I’ll keep posting these stories and asking the question—how are all these immigrants getting into the US, buying up convenience stores and then running these scams on the food stamp program? And, why is no real investigative reporter trying to answer the question?
From Niagara Gazette:
Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour says it was citizen outrage that sparked his office to launch an undercover probe of welfare fraud at Falls food stores.
“You know, we’d get the complaints from people who’d be in the these stores and they’d call us and say, ‘You can’t believe what these people are buying (with food stamps),'” Voutour said.
Or in some cases, what they were not buying.
“We looked at some of these stores and at the amount they were processing in food stamps,” Voutour said. “We had stores that were processing enormous amounts of food stamps, but they didn’t have the inventory of (food stuffs) to support (the food stamp redemptions).”
On Monday, Voutour and Niagara County District Attorney Michael Violante dropped the hammer and arrested the owners of two Falls mini-marts, charging them with a raft of fraud related crimes.
The charges followed a four-month, undercover investigation. Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office posed as food stamp recipients were able to make a series of fraudulent transactions at both the Indian General Store, 1611 Pine Ave., and Merry Mart, 336 19th St., between September and January.
Voutour said it was shocking how easily the fraud took place. [LOL! If Voutour read RRW regularly he wouldn’t be so shocked—ed]
Charged and arraigned in Falls City Court on Monday were Jasbir Kaur and Shamsher Singh, the owners of Indian General Store. [Obviously of Indian origin. We had another sour Kaur in Pottstown, PA here in March—ed]
Kaur, 52, was charged with second-degree grand larceny, misuse of food stamps, first-degree falsifying business records, first-degree tampering with public records, third-degree welfare fraud and three counts of first-degree offering a false instrument.
Singh, 59, was charged with second-degree grand larceny, misuse of food stamps, first-degree falsifying business records, first-degree tampering with public records, third-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument.
Investigators said during the course of the food stamp investigation they also linked Kaur and Singh to a Medicaid fraud scheme and charged them with that as well.
Also charged and arraigned on Monday was Merry Mart owner Wael Rizek. Rizek, 42, was charged with third-degree grand larceny, misuse of food stamps, six counts of first-degree falsifying business records and six counts of first-degree tampering with public records. [Couldn’t figure out Rizek’s nationality, maybe Palestinian?—ed]
The savings to Niagara County taxpayers as a result of those deals is estimated at over $100,000.
I’m AnnC@refugeewatcher on twitter. Please tweet this and also follow me!