An Illinois man was able to steal nearly $1M from taxpayers, before his elaborate scheme was investigated and stopped.
46 year-old Wael Ghoshesh used more than 3,000 Link (food assistance) cards to buy candy and energy drinks, which he then resold to other stores at a profit. How is it even possible for one man to have access to thousands of benefit cards issued to someone else? While it’s unknown exactly how Ghoshesh acquired his haul of LINK cards, there have been many reports of benefit recipients selling their cards for cash on sites such as Craigslist. And as we’ve reported, food stamp dependency continues to grow, with it so does the opportunity for fraud.
The federally-funded Link cards are designed to provide low-income individuals access to healthy foods through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), but instead of that money going to help put food on the table for thousands of families, it went to profits in Wael’s pocket.
When a membership-only bulk store noticed Ghoshesh making bulk purchases of candy and energy drinks with Link cards, they called law enforcement. His activity was then monitored as he continued to use the cards for these purchases, using membership cards belonging to multiple other people. He has been charged with theft of government property, identity theft, money laundering, wire fraud, and the unauthorized use of food stamp benefits. All of these are felonies.
Ghoshesh is currently in Cook County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.