Society

Florida Convenience Store Owners Charged with Running Food Stamp Scam

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A convenience store in Florida was found to be running a food stamp scam after authorities completed a three-month-long investigation into the matter.

The store was located in Daytona Beach and was run by a father, Bassam Sale Abu Diab, 55, and his son, Matthew Bassam Abu Diab, 22. Bassam is a  native of Israel and his son was born in America.

Investigators discovered the two were buying food stamps from customers for much less than their worth and using the stamps to buy items for their store. 

In most cases, they would buy EBT cards for pennies on the dollar and turn around and use the cards to buy stock from Walmart.

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When an undercover officer went to the 4M Food Mart and said she wanted $200 for her card, Bassam told her that she should leave the card with them and give them the pin number and come back later.

She returned later, and Bassam gave her $210 for it. He used the card to make $420.14 in purchases at a Walmart and a Save-A-Lot store.

Bassam and his son are denying that they committed fraud. 

"Can you tell us why you were buying these cards for cash?" local news station Channel 9 asked.

"I am not. I was not. How would you know?" Bassam asked.

"They said you did. That's what police say," Channel 9 said.

"Oh, you believe everything police say?" Bassam asked.

Police said this has happened in other stores before.

"The guys are buying these cards, these unscrupulous business owners buy these cards for pennies on the dollar or they allow you to buy beer and cigarettes at an exorbitant price," Police Chief Michael Chitwood said.

They believe that, cumulatively, the Abu Diab's had $88,000 in EBT card transactions and may have made hundreds of thousands by stocking the shelves with items purchased through the cards.

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

In December, Bassam was charged with engaging in a pawn broker business without a license. 

Both of the Abu Diab's were booked in jail Monday night and are each charged with three counts of misappropriating public assistance funds, making misrepresentations to a credit card issuer, obtaining property by fraud and communications fraud. 

Sources: WFTV Channel 9, News-Journal Online