DETROIT, MI — Federal investigators claim flagrant food-stamp fraud has been occurring in Hamtramck, a suburb within Detroit.
They identified $12.5 million in fraud — since when federal officials did not say — and arrested 11 store owners, managers or employees Tuesday.
Shop in Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park or elsewhere long enough and you’re bound to be approached with a proposition, someone offering to purchase your groceries for you with their government-issued Eletronic Benefit Transfer card, like a debit card loaded with government funds for food purchases.
They ask in exchange for cash, sometimes less than the value of the groceries they are willing to purchase, so they can circumvent EBT limits excluding alcohol, tobacco, hot food and other purchases.
This is the scam Hamtramck retailers were taking advantage of, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade’s office said in a statement Tuesday.
The retailers would issue cash to cardholders in exchange for their benefits, which are then transferred to the store’s bank account.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said store owners would add a surcharge to the cardholder’s purchase, “sometimes in an amount of the cash benefit received.”
“Taxpayers in Michigan fund food stamp programs to provide food for the needy,
not to create a commodity to be traded for profit,” McQuade said. “We hope today’s
charges will deter other merchants to ensure that food assistance programs are not
The 11 indicted individuals are scheduled to the indicted today:
The stores and suspects include:
Al Amin Supermarket, 11920 Conant, Hamtramck, owner Moklasur Mukul, age 36, of Hamtramck;
Bengal American Grocery, 9800 Joseph Campau Avenue, Hamtramck, manager
Mohamed Ali, age 38, resident of Detroit;
Deshi Bazar, 12045 Conant Street, Hamtramck, owners Ali Ahmed, age 31, and
Nazir Ahmed, age 32, and employee Mustak Ahmed, age 34, all residents of
Maloncho Greens House, 12133 Conant Street, Hamtramck, owner Azizur Ullah,
age 37, of Hamtramck, and employees Mohammed Chadek, age 44, Mohammed
Miah, age 38, and Mohammed Amin, age 38, residents of Hamtramck;
New Al-Madeena Grocery, 2220-2222 Caniff Street, Hamtramck, owner Dilshad
Chowdhury, age 34, resident of Hamtramck.
Pay-Less Foods, 11350 Joseph Campau Avenue, Hamtramck, owner Mohamed
Ahmed, age 58, resident of Hamtramck;
Although other Metro Detroit stores in Warren and Detroit were investigated, investigators did not announce any arrests outside Hamtramck.
“Michigan families are working harder than ever for every tax dollar,” said state Attorney General Bill Schuette. “Today’s charges should send the message that we will not stand by while tax dollars are being stolen.
“Enriching yourself at public expense is not only shameful, but compromises the integrity of government and violates the public trust.”
Numerous agencies, both state and federal, including the FBI, Homeland Security and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, participated in the investigation.
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