Fargo Grocery Store Employees Sentenced for Defrauding Food Stamp Program
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of North Dakota
North Dakota’s First Grocery Store SNAP Case
FARGO - U. S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers announced that on Dec. 3, 2015, Lamia Ali, 48, and Abass Hassan Amedi, 51, both from Fargo, ND, were sentenced before U. S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson for their roles in defrauding the United States of more than $365,000.
From March 2011 through March 1, 2013, Ali operated Noor Al Huda, a neighborhood grocery store located in Fargo. During this period, Ali and Amedi knowingly conducted fraudulent transactions with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP,” a federal government program formerly known as the food stamp program) benefits. SNAP benefits are loaded monthly on to Electronic Benefits Transfer (“EBT”) cards, which work in a manner similar to prepaid credit cards. The SNAP benefits recipients may use the benefits to purchase approved items, such as food. These benefits may not be used to obtain cash.
Over eighteen months, Ali and her co-defendant, Amedi, fraudulently cashed out SNAP benefits loaded on EBT cards, a practice commonly known as “discounting” or “cash-back.” For example, Ali and Amedi would conduct a fraudulent transaction by charging $200 to an EBT card. Noor Al Huda’s bank account would then be reimbursed $200 from the SNAP program. Ali and Amedi would give half of that amount they received from the SNAP program—$100—in cash to the EBT card holder. Ali and Amedi often charged an EBT card for the entire month’s benefit amount in one transaction.
As a result of the conspiracy, Ali and Amedi caused a loss of approximately $365,058.10 to the United States Department of Agriculture. Judge Erickson ordered both defendants to forfeit that amount to the United States, to serve periods of home confinement, to perform community service, and to pay $100 special assessments.
This case was investigated by United States Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General (“USDA-OIG”).
Assistant U. S. Attorney Jennifer Puhl prosecuted the case.
Updated December 3, 2015