We have done a series of welfare fraud pieces chronicling the many ways people abuse and scam the welfare system for their own gain. These scams often bilk taxpayers for thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, but this one we found in Grand Rapids, Michigan was one for the record books.
Three brothers accused of defrauding federal welfare programs for nearly 10 years have been sentenced to federal prison and will have to pay back nearly $1.3 million.
The Feds found the brothers “illegally collected around $1,278,700 in federal welfare funds between 2001 and 2010 while they ran the Middle Eastern Market in Grand Rapids.” The scam let customers use their EBT cards and WIC benefits “to get cash and buy ineligible items like phone cards, and to pay off credit the brothers had extended to them.”
As U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles Jr. put it, “large amounts of federal welfare money wound up in the store’s bank accounts.” That’s an understatement.
And there’s more:
They also signed up for welfare benefits and didn’t disclose the bank account holding the ill-gotten welfare money and other income that would have disqualified them from getting food and cash assistance and Medicaid benefits.
Miles said that “we work hard to stamp out fraud involving welfare benefits whenever we see it, because the taxpayers have the right to demand that the money they provide for these programs goes to those who are in need.”
“Any unscrupulous person thinking of illegally taking advantage of the public welfare system should take notice—if you do it, you will find out the hard way that it is not worth it.”
We couldn’t agree more, and that’s why we’re working to reform many of these programs so that the funds designated to help the needy are only going to the truly needy.