Cigarettes, Beer, and Cash for Food Stamps Scam Costs Taxpayers Over $780,000

Credit: complexify. / Foter / CC BY-NC-SACredit: complexify. / Foter / CC BY-NC-SAFollowing a series of undercover sting operations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a federal grand jury indicted three men accused of spending a decade defrauding the food stamp program for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mohammad D. Mohammad, Ahmad Damra, and Mahmoud Damrah, are accused of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, food stamp fraud and unlawful redemption of food stamps, and one count of WIC fraud. Their indictment states that from 2002 to 2011, the three used a store in Cleveland to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of $780,710.

Mohammad, the store owner, already had a criminal record that included food stamp trafficking and aggravated arson. His business lost the license to accept SNAP in 2005. Mohammad avoided government notice for several years, simply “by applying under a different business name with his mother listed as president,” according to Media Matters. From 2009 onward, the store was operating without a business license.

The indictment details the owner's and clerks' crimes, including selling ineligible items, such as cigarettes and beer, to undercover USDA agents on numerous occasions from 2007 to 2011. They also paid the agents for food stamps. The Plain Dealer explains that they bought them for personal use and in order to “use them at other grocery locations to purchase inventory for the market.”

"The food stamp program has provided nutritious food to thousands of hungry families over the years. We will continue to work to recover money stolen from the program and eradicate waste, fraud and abuse of government programs,” said U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.

The indictment comes just weeks after an even larger food stamp scam was exposed in Cleveland. Nidal Jaber and brothers Saed Wahdan and Maher Wahdan were accused of siphoning $2 million from SNAP.

By the USDA's own estimates, these cases are just drops in the bucket of a growing black market. As many as 11.4 percent of authorized SNAP businesses traffic food stamps. This adds up to $858 million, which is a dramatic uptick from previous estimates of $330 million.

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  • CampingInYourPark||

    Seems appropriate:

    "75 arrested for Social Security disability scam in Puerto Rico"

    In recent years the program has ballooned, from 2.9 million Americans to 8.8 million in 2012. Some of that is natural population growth and the fact that more women joined the labor force and are thus eligible for disability benefits, according to a paper this summer from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....erto-rico/

  • Paul.||

    Which 75?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Puerto Rico must be Spanish for "SSI scam". They have something like 3x the SSDI rate of the highest US state.

  • Paul.||

    Do Puerto Ricans pay into SSI?

  • Mr. Weebles||

    Yes they do.

  • Paul.||

    Ok, because that would be representation without taxation, and you know how I feel about that.

  • Paul.||

    Department of Agriculture (USDA), a federal grand jury indicted three men accused of spending a decade defrauding the food stamp program for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Mohammad D. Mohammad, Ahmad Damra, and Mahmoud Damrah

    And you guys keep poo-pooing the PATRIOT act. See? RESULTS!

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Mohammad D. Mohammad, Ahmad Damra, and Mahmoud Damrah, are accused of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, food stamp fraud and unlawful redemption of food stamps, and one count of WIC fraud. Their indictment states that from 2002 to 2011, the three used a store in Cleveland to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of $780,710.

    Muslim immigrants, welfare fraud, and Cleveland all in one sentence. American! will have a heart attack.

  • Tonio||

    I think that's Merkin at the top of the thread. He seems to be in gay-hating mode of late, to the exclusion of all else. Curious.

  • Hugh Akston||

    He seems really really concerned lately about what dudes do with their dicks.

    For the record, I don't think that guy is the same as Slappy/Merkin, who was a little subtler about being a hateful troglodyte.

  • Paul.||

    Really? That first post gave me a chuckle. Like a joke about racism as opposed to a racist joke...

    But if it is Murrican...

    *leans closer, speaks quietly*

    ...do you really think all he can see is gay people?

  • Paul.||

    aggravated arson.

    How is... ok, if I light something on fire...

  • tarran||

    It's generally burning a dwelling while it is occupied.

    Dude sounds like a lovely person.

  • Paul.||

    Ah.

  • Paul.||

    Mohammad avoided government notice for several years, simply “by applying under a different business name with his mother listed as president,

    Diversity!

    Man, this post is a freakin' treasure trove!

  • ||

    I hope they benefited from the various govt. programs supporting women-owned businesses.

  • Paul.||

    I'm not sure how they'd even separate the illegal fraud from the legal fraud in this case.

    Minorities, food stamps, women-owned businesses. Jesus what a Gordian knot this case must have been.

  • Jerryskids||

    Mohammad avoided government notice for several years, simply “by applying under a different business name with his mother listed as president,”

    That's some nice government oversight there, Lou.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I wish my first name and last name were the same. How badass is that?

  • Paul.||

    Mclovin.

  • MOFO.||

    Fist of fist?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Two fisting it, bro?

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Sirhan Sirhan? Boutros Boutros Ghali?

  • R C Dean||

    There actually is (or was) a Judge Justice.

  • PapayaSF||

    Major Major Major Major in Catch 22.

  • Paul.||

    By the USDA's own estimates, these cases are just drops in the bucket of a growing black market.

    So, when the government makes a pile of easy cash available, and encourages people to, and I quote, "Get more people into the program", the question "What could go wrong" comes to mind. As, you know, one question.

  • CatoTheElder||

    By the USDA's own estimates, these cases are just drops in the bucket of a growing black market.

    RACIST!

  • ||

    Mohammad D. Mohammad?

    Really? Give his mom points for originality.

    I guess it could have been worse. Mohammad M. Mohammad

  • NoVAHockey||

    can't do that.. the computer would likely promote him to Mohammad. Then he'd be Mohammad Mohammad Mohammad Mohammad

  • ||

    +1 Major

  • PapayaSF||

    I guess I should read the whole thread before posting....

  • hotsy totsy||

    Muhammed Mohammad...for variety.

  • Tonio||

    The indictment details the owner's and clerks' crimes, including selling ineligible items, such as cigarettes and beer, to undercover USDA agents on numerous occasions from 2007 to 2011.

    No sympathy for the fraudsters, but why did the government let these people do this for four years before bringing charges. Seems if the real goal was to stop fraud, they'd have busted them way sooner. This is like the Bulger case, only on a much smaller scale.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    They enjoy their cigarettes and beer?

  • NoVAHockey||

    so they could report a larger number?
    or so it would trigger a larger penalty?

  • prolefeed||

    I'd say this story buried the lede about the much bigger, $75 billion dollar a year fraud that is the SNAP program.

    I mean, why single out these people receiving stolen money, and not everyone else on SNAP? Because these people didn't follow SNAP's bureaucratic rules on how to "ethically" steal from others?

  • Brett L||

    Seems like if we just gave all the SNAP recipients cash value, the fraud would go to zero. I mean, sure the government wouldn't get to tell someone else how to spend the money they so generously 'give' away, but that's a bug not a feature anyhow.

  • Brett L||

    *gave cash, not cash value or vouchers

  • Hugh Akston||

    Fuckin A

  • Paul.||

    Guaranteed Minimum Income. Go with God my friend...

  • Nazdrakke||

    Be a hell of a stimulus for the 40 oz and blunt wrap industries.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    Let them eat (government) cheese.

    Or, we could give them nothing - cash or vouchers.

  • Jerryskids||

    Just giving poor people money so they're not poor would be simpler and cheaper? But what would all the over-credentialed social sciences majors do for jobs without government programs to administer? That sounds like the sort of crackpot theory somebody like Milton Friedman would have written about in 'Free To Chose', as if the point of government programs to help the poor is to help the poor.

  • Brandon||

    How much did all these sting operations cost? I'm guessing more than $780K.

  • PH2050||

    Is there a reward for turning in stores that give people 50 cents on the dollar for their SNAP benefits? Because I can snitch on someone right now and I need some money.

    On second thought, maybe it's better to just let it continue in the hopes it hastens the program's failure.

  • Jerryskids||

    You mean you're considering going to work for the government?

  • CE||

    Cigarettes, beer and cash? At least the money's not being wasted for once.

  • Robert||

    How do you figure the scam cost taxpayers $780,000? Are you assuming that if the cheaters hadn't taken the payment for ineligible items, the food credit wouldn't've been spent at all? I suspect at least 80%, maybe 100%, would've been spent, just on eligible items, so there may have been no loss to the treasury at all, and if there was a loss, it was much less than the total amount spent.

  • Meerkatx||

    Small time scammers upset people and then they turn a blind eye to Haliburton, Blackwater (or whatever their name is currently), Kellog Root and Brown, and the other dozens of companies that routinely over charge and waste money while being on the public dole.

    Lets clean up the guys stealing hundreds of millions a year before worrying about the small fry.

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