An Alabama convenience store owner pleaded guilty Tuesday to defrauding the food stamp system for more than $5 million over the course of just three years.
Hasan F. Ahmed used his position owning Associated Discount Foods to manipulate the food stamp system. He was able to scam it for an estimated $5,243,866 in benefits between July 2011 and June 2014, reports the Alabama Media Group. He allowed food stamp recipients to trade their benefits for cash at a discounted rate, then took government reimbursements on those stamps at the full rate.
Ahmed pleaded guilty to one count of food stamp fraud and four counts of money laundering, additionally one count of tax evasion, and one count of structuring bank transactions, according to the local Fox News affiliate. He filed a tax return in 2013 claiming a total income of $24,728 despite his actual income being $210,927. Ahmed has agreed to forfeit $5.2 million to the government.
The food stamp program is the largest food-assistance welfare service in the country. It is officially known as the The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the program in coordination with state agencies.
The USDA estimates the program has increased from 17 million participants in 2000 to nearly 47 million in 2014. The improved economy has helped decrease the number of participants in recent years. The Congressional Budget Office found, since participation hit its peak in December 2012, the number of people receiving benefits has declined by more than 1.5 million.
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