Immigrant food stamp scammers on the rise; Michigan among the worst

We are not talking about the petty stuff—you know like buying some disallowed food or drink item or hiding some of one’s income in order to be eligible.  This is about massive hundreds of thousands of dollars of fraud through the food stamp program and your tax dollars being sent to Africa and elsewhere.

As a matter of fact, I’m wondering if the raid on a halal meat store in Lewiston, Maine last week involved food stamps and money transfers to Somalia.

Also, see the mention in the post I wrote about Muslims attacking Rep. Sue Myrick for her statements warning of Muslim convenience store owners laundering money.  Myrick was right and should have had the facts at her fingertips, like the facts in the following AP story.

From the Oakland Press:

Fraud in the government program that helps the poor has added up to nearly $100 million since 2007, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. It’s a fraction of the more than $40 billion spent to feed people each year, but the crime has become a brazen way for some small stores to literally swipe cash from the U.S. Treasury, especially in the Detroit area.

There have been at least 122 fraud-related convictions of owners or employees in the five-state Midwest region since 2007, nearly double the number from 2004-06, says USDA, which oversees the welfare program. About half of those have occurred in southeastern Michigan.

Among the latest cases: A store west of downtown Detroit is accused of selling bags of the exotic chewy drug khat in exchange for food-stamp benefits. Agents in another investigation discovered that cash was wired to Somalia and other countries.

The boldest scam works like this: People hungry for cash ask the store to ring up a small food sale or a phony one. An employee agrees to hand over money, maybe $50, but takes a larger amount off the card for a nice profit, sometimes as high as 100 percent.

Taxpayers get stung when money is transferred to a store’s bank account from the U.S. Treasury.


More than 100 stores in Michigan have been kicked out of the program since fall 2007. Nationally, 1,437 were disqualified during the government’s 2009 fiscal year, said Alan Shannon, a Midwest spokesman for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.


North American Money Transfer Inc. recently agreed to pay $25,000 and open its books to investigators in a deal to dismiss an indictment that was tied to how it handled money that flowed through an Ypsilanti store, Abbas Phone Card and Grocery.

The government says food-stamp recipients instructed the store to take money off their cards and get it wired to Somalia and other destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The grocery would charge a 25 percent fee.

We’ve covered many many food stamp scam cases here at RRW, a favorite subject of mine ever since the Pakistani scammer in our county got sent away for a few years.  Use our search function for ‘food stamp fraud’ to learn more. 

But, definitely take a minute and visit this 2008 post I wrote about how the Michigan Attorney Generals Office is so steeped in political correctness they claim they didn’t notice that all the scammers they were prosecuting had similar ethnic names until it was pointed out to them by an Arab publication.  Visit that post and have a chuckle—you know it’s kind of like white biker gangs!

National Security Council’s secret review of the Refugee Resettlement Program

I’ve touched on this topic on a few occasions and wondered why on earth the White House’s National Security Council is “reforming” the Refugee Program of the US State Department?   We already learned that the Obama Administration has doubled payments to the resettlement contractors apparently without Congressional say-so and we hear through the grapevine that the complete review of the program should be done shortly.  They are probably aiming to unveil it for the upcoming 30th Anniversary Shindig for the program.

I have lots of questions.  Why isn’t a review being spear-headed at the State Department?  By doing it out of the National Security Council are they implying there are national security concerns with the program (we think there should be concerns!)?  Isn’t it the duty of Congress to update the Refugee Act of 1980?  Or, is the White House planning to take its reform needs to Congress so that there will be PUBLIC HEARINGS FOR ALL TO PARTICIPATE IN?  I sure hope so because as far as I can tell this law has never been reauthorized.

State Refugee coordinators have submitted their reform ideas. I see that for the State coordinators it’s all about money, money, give us more money!   I don’t think they want real reform as much as they want more money!  For instance right now, refugees need to have jobs and be on their own in anywhere from 3-8 months (the program varies even within cities!)  The State coordinators want the federal taxpayer to take care of all refugee needs for 18 months among other things!  If you want to see the report, write to me at it is a pdf file.  

I wonder who else of the so-called ‘stakeholders’ (agencies which have skin, read money, in the game) have commented? 

Where is the vaunted Obama Administration transparency?   Why isn’t this whole initiative widely advertised?

I have some reform ideas! 

* First, there should be open public debate on how many refugees we bring to the US each year depending on economic circumstances and from what countries we take them.  Countries that produce Islamic terrorists (or any other kind of terrorist) should be omitted from the program.

* Second, there needs to be an economic and social impact statement prepared (similar to the federally mandated Environmental Impact Statement) which addresses the ability of a given locale to economically and socially absorb refugees and what number that would be for each town or city.  The EIS process under the National Environmental Policy Act, requires PUBLIC HEARINGS IN ADVANCE OF FEDERAL ACTION and that same requirement should be put in play for the federal government sending refugees to communities.   For communities with existing refugee populations the document would need to be updated as cities become potentially overloaded.

Citizens in a community have a right to know every aspect of the refugee program and what it might mean for their community.  If the volags and the federal government can’t sell the program on its merits, with all facts on the table, then there is a problem.

Presently there is a legal requirement that local governments be informed of upcoming resettlement to cities and towns, but that is very often not happening.  

* Third, there needs to be a financial audit (not a program audit) of all government grant and contract recipients on a regular basis and whenever the public alerts the lead federal agency that there may be financial malfeasance occurring.  That audit requirement would include all major federal contractors (volags), their subcontractors and the Ethnic Community Based Organizations. (Update: here is an example of why their needs to be regular and frequent financial audits.)

Of course my greatest wish is that these middlemen government contractors be removed completely from the resettlement process.   The program could be run from state offices and the “churches” and other non-profits could VOLUNTEER and do their charitable good deeds for free!  But, this has become so entrenched and we have whole church denominations being kept afloat with taxpayer money that it frankly would be near impossible to pull them off the federal teat?

* There needs to be established within the State Department a hotline for refugees and citizen refugee advocates to report abuse of refugees by resettlement contractors.  Right now there is no direct line to the State Department and surely a local resettlement agency isn’t going to blow the whistle on itself!  And, hey State Department, just think you wouldn’t have to be reading all those news stories of refugee neglect!  You might actually know ahead of time who is screwing up!

I could go on and on with reform suggestions but the Obama Administration doesn’t want to hear them, maybe Congress will.  After all, the responsibility for real review and reform rests with Congress—the White House is just grabbing more power here (and in lots of other areas too!).

Endnote:  I see that Friends of Refugees has prepared 19 pages or so of reform recommendations based on their extensive research and documentation on the failings of many of the federal refugee contractors to properly carry out their contractual duties. Update:  FOR has more recommendations, here.

P.S. If any readers have reform suggestions, please comment and I’ll post them prominently (no bad language please!).  Or, you can send your reform ideas directly to:

Scott Busby

Director for Human Rights

Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights

National Security Council

The White House

Washington, DC 20504