'Obama Express' food store caught trafficking food stamps

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Obama Express, food stamp trafficking, entitlement programs

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(NaturalNews) Another day, another story about food stamp abuse.

As millions more Americans "qualify" for so-called government nutritional assistance, compliments of the U.S. taxpayer, the incidence of food stamp fraud has increased dramatically. Not only are we allowing government to create a permanent underclass of citizen, but we're permitting ourselves to be habitually ripped off by the created underclass.

The most recent example of food stamp fraud took place in Baltimore City and County, where, as WBAL reports, a federal grand jury recently indicted nine retail store owners for "food stamp trafficking":

Court papers said the retailers redeemed the food stamps for cash and split the money with food stamp recipients. The amounts totaled about $7 million. According to investigators, the retailers did not provide any food.

It's a familiar scam.

Fraud - Even at the 'Obama Express' store

"Taxpayers fund the food stamp program to put food on the tables of needy recipients, not to put money in the pockets of greedy criminals," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "Food producers and distributors benefit when food stamp funds are used to buy food, and honest storeowners work hard to earn a profit by actually selling food. People who play by the rules deserve to know that criminals who defraud them will be held accountable."

Food stamps - well, nowadays food "cards" - aren't even called food stamps anymore (because gosh, we can't allow those ripping us off to be stigmatized). It's now "SNAP" - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and it is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in conjunction with state welfare agencies.

Using EBTs - Electronic Benefit Transfer - cards, which are essentially operated like debit cards, recipients find willing retailers who allow them to extract money from the cards, giving the retailer a share of it. It's like "selling" their benefits. And as WBAL reported, there isn't any food exchanged, only cash.

In this case, one of the retailers actually operates a store called "Obama Express."

More examples of food stamp fraud and taxpayer abuse

In other recent examples of this widening scandal:

-- In Brook Park, Ohio - a suburb of Cleveland - the local ABC affiliate reported that a pair of men, Saed (Sam) Wahdan, 41, and his brother, Maher (Mario) Wahdan, 42, pled guilty in court recently to stealing $2 million from the food stamp program. The station reported that the men "accepted food stamps at four Cleveland stores for ineligible items, such as beer and cigarettes, according to Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. ... The Wahdans and others conspired to commit the fraud between January 2008 and March 2012. During this time, they also purchased food stamp cards from customers to buy inventory for their stories [sic] and personal use."

-- The CBS affiliate in Detroit reports that "several people" are facing food stamp fraud charges after being raided by federal agents. The station reported:

United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said six people were arrested and nine have been charged following the two-day federal search and arrest warrant operation combating fraud against the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP).

Investigators say they targeted numerous retailers in Detroit's Eastern Market Terminal, and other locations in the city, who have allegedly been engaging in the illegal practice of exchanging cash for food stamp benefits.

-- A Providence, R.I., man who worked at a local convenience store was recently arrested by federal authorities and charged with conspiracy, food stamp fraud and lying to a federal agent, according to U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha. The suspect, Mashhod Afzal, 25, a North Providence resident who works at the Stop & Go convenience store in Providence, was involved with several other store owners and employees in the area responsible for $3 million worth of alleged fraud.

And mind you, these are just cases the Feds find out about. As frequently as this happens, it's hard to say just how widespread the fraud actually is.


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