A handful of stolen steaks led police to discover the biggest food stamp fraud in the history of Jefferson County, Alabama, this week as authorities discovered that over a million dollars had been stolen from the welfare program using the electronic benefit cards (EBTs).
The police operation dubbed “Operation T-Bone” led to the arrests of 17 people, many of whom were Middle Easterners. They were charged with fraud and misuse of the EBT cards. Some of the profits from the illegal enterprise were sent to Yemen.
At the heart of the operation are Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, a government-issued debit card that replaced food stamps. There are more than 900,000 people who get government assistance through the EBT card in Alabama each year, and they are allowed to use the cards for food, non-alcoholic beverages, and other basic needs, mostly through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The investigation began in February when Gardendale police arrested a man for shoplifting steaks and some other items at Walmart in that city. When they interviewed the suspect, he said he was boosting the items to give to two convenience stores, and he named the stores, authorities said.
As noted, most arrested were Middle Easterners…
Those arrested in today’s raids are: Jowher Almnasoob, Abdulrahman Alqublani, Ismail Hassan Elnaham, Saleh Yahya Rowaid, Ramzi Jowher Ali Almansoob, Mujahed Jowher Ali Almansoob, Bashir Abosaleh Mohamed, Fouad Zamzami, Muneer Zindani, Sufyan Saleh, Mansoor Almansoob, Audrey Morris, Jerry Brown, Keith Lee Lucas, Travis Wayne Holmes, Murad Nooruddin and Mable Olympia Kirksey.
They were arrested on charges including public assistance fraud, fraudulent use of a credit card and theft of property, which are felonies. All of those arrested are U.S. citizens, Falls said.
This is a big bust, but this sort of stuff is going on in every major city.