Two Cleveland men plead guilty on Monday to committing $2 million in food stamp fraud.
Brothers Saed (Sam) Wahdan and Maher (Mario) Wahdan took food stamps at four Cleveland stores in exchange for ineligible goods like beer and cigarettes, says U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach. The Wahdans also bought food stamp cards to purchase items to sell in their stores and for their own use.
Nidal Jaber has also been indicted for his involvement in the scheme. Newsnet5 reports that Saed Wahdan was previously convicted for food stamp trafficking, and his brother Maher has a prior conviction for impersonating an officer.
Similar recent food stamp fraud busts have occurred elsewhere. Last week, federal authorities said six people were arrested and nine were charged in Detroit for allegedly exchanging food stamp cards for cash.
In Arizona, authorities broke up a Phoenix food stamp fraud ring and seized nearly $700,000 in cash.
In Baltimore, authorities say a food stamp fraud scheme obtained over $2 million in payments for fraudulent food sales.
In Florida, a Tallahassee man was accused in July of committing over $20,000 in food stamp fraud.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the food stamp program, claims its food stamp fraud rate is 1 percent. However, according to the USDA’s own website, that figure is based on numbers from 2006-2008.
Since January 2009, the number of individuals on food stamps has skyrocketed from 31.9 million to 47,760,285.