Florida Food Stamp Scam: How Did Convenient Store Steal $88,000 From EBT?

Food Stamps
Daytona Beach convenience store bought food stamps for a fraction of their value to stock their own shelves. Creative Commons

The Florida food stamp scam that has been ripping off low income families in Daytona for the last three months was finally busted on Wednesday, authorities report.

Bassam Sale Abu Diab, 55, and his 22-year-old son Matthew Bassam Abu Diab, who own a convenience store in the city, allegedly bought EBT cards from customers at a deeply discounted rate -- sometimes as low as 20 cents per dollar. Then they would use credit to buy goods for their grocery store 4M Food Mart.

According to News Journal, the duo would pay $200 for an EBT card loaded with $500, and then used the money to buy goods at Walmart and Save-A-Lot stores as a way to supply cheaply their own store.

The two men were arrested on Monday after an investigation that started in January. The Diabs allegedly made at least $88,000 through illegitimate transactions.

This is not the first charge the elder Diab has under his belt: last December he was arrested for illegaly running a pawn shop in the store.

"This guy is running a business on the taxpayers' back," said Daytona Beach Police Chief Michael Chitwood. "It's a fraud. He's unscrupulous and clearly he didn't learn from the last time we hit the store."

Food stamp fraud is not a new racket: the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who is in charge of the EBT program, nearly 1,400 stores were involved in illegally exchanging food stamp cards for cash last year.

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