A businesses owner in Chicago, Ill., allegedly made more than $5 million by accepting food stamps at his stores when none of them were approved for the program.
Zuhger Mohammud, would accept blank food stamps checks at his stores, even though he was not an approved vendor for the program, according to the Illinois state attorney’s office in Cook County. The Women, and Infants and Children (WIC) program is part of the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), administered by each state, and dispenses a special type of check designed to be used for certain food items.
Mohammud accepted blank WIC checks and allowed customers to purchase goods not on the approved list between 2011 and 2014, the states attorney’s office says. Analyzing Mohammud’s store records, investigators discovered that he brought in $5.2 million in revenue from the scam. Investigators also found thousands of WIC checks in Mohammud’s home.
Mohammud is charged with theft of government property, WIC fraud, committing financial crimes enterprise, and public aid wire fraud.
“This brazen theft of public funding intended for citizens and families in need will not be tolerated,” Illinois state’s attorney Anita Alvarez said in the statement. “We will continue to investigate and aggressively prosecute those individuals who engage in these offensive financial crimes that defraud taxpayers.”
The most recent data from U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that more than 276,000 people in Illinois received WIC benefits in 2013, which is around 52 percent of eligible women and children eligible for the benefits in the state.
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