Two former Somali specialty market owners in Columbus, Ohio, are facing more than $10 million in food stamp fraud charges, authorities say.
Hassan Nuriso and Abdurahim Nuriso, the former owners of Towfiq Market on Sullivant Avenue, have been charged by a federal grand jury with conspiring to fraudulently redeem more than $10 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC program benefits between 2010 and 2019, WCMH reported.
“It’s very clear in all the regulations what you can and can’t do,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Bosley. “You can’t give food stamps for cash, you can’t buy items that are not allowed under the food stamp program, you can’t buy things that aren’t food, and you can’t give credit.”
The Nuriso brothers are also accused of trading illegally obtained benefits into cash to spend the money for other purposes.
The five-count indictment also alleges that the Nurisos allowed the benefit recipients to use their benefits to purchase items that could not be redeemable through SNAP, WIC, or other programs.
In total, the Nurisos are accused of redeeming $8 million SNAP benefits and $2.1 million WIC benefits between 2010 and 2019. The federal government says the majority of them are fraudulent.
Investigators often uncover millions, sometimes billions, of dollars worth of food stamp fraud and other welfare fraud charges, mostly from people who run convenience stores in low-income areas where many customers receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or WIC benefits.
A January 2019 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that at least $1 billion in food stamp benefits had been trafficked each year in the U.S.