This immigrant food stamp scammer was caught before he had ripped off US taxpayers for too much, but I’m posting the story because it contains some additional information on the magnitude of this welfare fraud crime.
Police said the owner, Mohammad Imran Mumtaz, 35, of Middletown, admitted that he knew most of his “customers” cashed their government Access cards to buy heroin and cocaine.
Food stamps can be used to put a turkey on a poor family’s table, to make lunch for a needy child or put breakfast in a child’s belly before school.
They also can be taken to a store and illegally changed into cash, which then can be used to buy street drugs.
That’s what was happening at one Morrisville grocery, police said. Now the owner and former owner of 3 Star Deli Mart at 336 West Bridge St. face hundreds of criminal charges for trafficking in food stamps, fraud and related offenses.
For readers wishing to help authorities identify convenience stores in your community that might be involved in illegal food stamp transactions, there is a pattern. The store is usually pretty new (or newly re-opened) and in many cases run by an immigrant who is new to town. They are often located in communities with large immigrant populations (btw, refugee use of food stamps is way up). This article tells us they are in close proximity to crime areas of the city. One additional tip-off is that the store shelves are not fully stocked. Alert your local police and they will most likely set up a sting operation.
Big bucks are involved:
According to a 2007 Government Accountability Office report, about $241 million worth of food stamps were illegally used in 2005. The GAO report recommended targeting stores most likely to traffic in food stamps, promoting state-level enforcement and developing a plan to increase the penalties for dealing in food stamps. The agency also recommended oversight of early operations at newly authorized retailers. One example in the report referred to a store that illegally redeemed almost $650,000 in food stamps in nine months.
The GAO said that while the study showed trafficking had declined in larger stores, it remained more common in small grocery and convenience stores.
Early on, investigators noted the 3 Star Deli Mart fit that description, and that it was a short drive from the open air cocaine, heroin and crack markets of Trenton.
This guy, however, was more generous than some scammers we have written about. He was giving 60 cents on the dollar, usually its only 50 cents!
The informant told police that Mumtaz would run the Access cards used for the food stamps in Pennsylvania as if a purchase was being made and give the cardholder 60 percent of the value, according to court records.
For new readers, this is a side issue that has interested me ever since the same thing happened where we live. The ‘Mohammad’ in our town is now in prison. If it interests you, just type ‘food stamp fraud’ into our search function and notice the number and variety of locations where this scam has been busted.
I’m convinced there are training programs abroad to teach certain immigrant types how to set-up these schemes, and provide them with the seed money to buy the ‘mom & pop’ business. Here, for example, is the E-2 Treaty Investor program which I sure hope authorities are examining closely.