Trafficking Stop

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There is a serious black market for food stamps, and the government is even more serious about cracking down on food stamp trafficking. Cleveland.com has the story of a father-and-son team in Ohio, who illegally netted almost a million dollars by trading food stamps for cash, hookah tobacco pipes and calling cards from their convenience store over a 12-year span of time. The clincher? The father had prior convictions for food stamp fraud and trafficking! (But this duo didn’t let the father’s related criminal record deter them.)

They applied for a food stamp vendor license and fraudulently asserted that a relative would own and operate the convenience store where the food stamps were to be distributed. Of course, they also neglected to disclose the father’s ”priors”, as required by law, and his involvement in the store. (”Involvement” seems like an understatement; criminal mastermind might be more appropriate.)

When the law caught up with them, both pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, food stamp fraud and unlawful food stamp redemption and were sentenced to prison time: three years for the son and two and a half years for the father, placing him behind bars until he is nearly 64 years old. The pair also are on the hook for $931,045.48 in restitution. (They’re facing a different kind of redemption now.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on, ”Westlake father, son sentenced to prison for food stamp fraud,” written by Eric Heisig and published by Cleveland.com on May 5, 2016.

A Westlake father and son were sentenced to prison on charges that they illegally redeemed food stamps at their Cleveland convenience store for 12 years. Mahmoud Zayed, 61, was given a two-and-a-half year prison sentence and Ashraf Zayed, 41, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison. The men were also ordered to pay a combined $931,045.48 in restitution.

The men committed fraud when they applied for a food stamp vendor license because they did not disclose that Mahmoud Zayed had prior criminal convictions for food stamp fraud and food stamp trafficking. Once they received the license, the Zayeds traded food stamps for cash, hookah tobacco pipes and calling cards.

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