A grocery store owner in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was charged Thursday with buying food stamps from 128 customers and using the proceeds to buy $45,000 in bulk merchandise to resell in his shop, including 1,200 cases of Red Bull.
Aslam Khawaja, of Iranistan Avenue, claims he was only trying to help the poor.
If convicted, Khawaja could face up to 20 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.
Connecticut is not alone in combating what the Wall Street Journal dubbed the “food stamp crime wave.”
In February, Dallas authorities charged Kamardeen Ogunleye and manager Robert Gordon with running a food stamp scheme that cost taxpayers $1,900,000.
In Baltimore, Abdulmalik Abdulla and Ahmed Mohssen were charged in January with running a food stamp scam that cost taxpayers $1,500,000.
Two illegal immigrants from Korea, Hyung Cho and Dae Cho, were sentenced in February for food stamp fraud that cost taxpayers $1,400,000.
Abdullah Aljaradi, of the Second Obama Express and D&M Deli and Grocery, was indicted for allegedly obtaining more than $2,000,000 in payments for food sales that never occurred.
In Tacoma, Washington, the owner of La Popular Cash and Carry, Sandra Flores, was sentenced to 30 days incarceration and a $120,000 fine for running a food stamp scam.
In Arizona last year, authorities seized nearly $700,000 in cash when they broke up a food stamp fraud ring.
Abdo Mohammad Nagi was indicted for allegedly bagging $1,200,000 in payments for food sales that did not happen.
John Cunningham was indicted for over $348,000 in food stamp fraud.
Last month, Texas authorities arrested Irene Hernandez, Esther Sanchez, and Joleen Garcia in a food stamp scheme that cost taxpayers over $200,000.
Jung Kim was indicted for $600,000 in food stamp fraud.
According to the Department of Agriculture, which runs the food stamp program, the federal government overpaid food stamp recipients by $2.1 billion in 2013.
Since January 2009, the number of individuals on food stamps has skyrocketed from 31.9 million to 46.5 million.