Huntington, WV food stamp fraud case has many twists and turns

I haven’t had an immigrant food stamp fraud story in awhile.  I was assuming the Obama Administration was not aggressively prosecuting cases in light of the on-going discussion in Congress about reforming the food stamp program.

But, here is a really interesting case in Huntington, WV where this news channel WSAZ  has had the foresight to list all of their stories on the case since it first broke earlier this year so that readers new to the story could follow the progression up to the recent guilty plea by store manager, Ibrahim Osman Owayda (sounds Somali, does anyone know?).  And, I see that Homeland Security was involved in the investigation.  I bet there is a lot more to this investigation than we see here.

From WSAZ (Huntington, WV):

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — A former Huntington store manager has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

Ibrahim Osman Owayda, also known as “Abe,” 34, of Huntington, was a manager of Huntington Mart formerly located at 1117 Hal Greer Boulevard.

Owayda admitted that in June 2010 and until November 2011, he took SNAP benefits and in turn provided cash to customers of the SNAP card. Owayda further admitted that he gave only 50 to 65 cents on the dollar for the SNAP benefits and then pocketed the rest — reaping large profits from the transactions.

Owayda admitted that he redeemed a total of approximately $297,871 in SNAP benefits from the illegal scheme.

Owayda faces up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 dollar fine when he is sentenced on October 1. He will also owe restitution in the amount of $297,871.

The store was shut down after being deemed a public nuisance by the City of Huntington.

Check it out because the rest of this link has the previous stories on the evolution of the case.

New readers interested in the proliferation of food stamp scams,  mostly at these immigrant-owned or managed convenience stores, should search RRW for ‘food stamp fraud.’  We have posted dozens of cases of this type of fraud—exchanging benefits for cash—and my theory is that this is organized crime generated abroad where would-be store owners use one of several legal programs to get into the US and purchase a ‘mom & pop’ store and set up this sort of lucrative scam.

And, by the way, good luck getting any restitution from these crooks—I’m betting much of their ‘take’ was sent out of the country.

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