A Florida food stamp scam has been uncovered, and a father and son have been arrested for allegedly purchasing EBT cards at a discount to their redeemable value and then using the benefits funds to stock store shelves.
The men arrested in the alleged Florida food stamp scam are Bassam Sale Abu Diab, 55, and son, Matthew Bassam Abu Diab, 22. Investigators say the Diab men would pay 20 or 40 cents on the dollar for the cards, in turn using them at discount stores like Walmart to stock shelves at their own store locations.
Before the Florida food stamp scam was discovered, Bassam Sale Abu Diab was arrested in December for allegedly running a pawn shop out of a convenience store. Daytona Beach Police Chief Michael Chitwood said of the food stamp scam:
“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.”
Chitwood also referenced Diab’s previous arrest, saying:
“This guy is running a business on the taxpayers back … It’s a fraud. He’s unscrupulous and clearly he didn’t learn from the last time we hit the store.”
Detectives say during the course of the Florida food stamp scam investigation, they discovered $88,000 in EBT card transactions on the store’s register — adding that the Diabs “may have made hundreds of thousands more stocking his shelves with merchandise purchased with EBT cards.”
Daytona Beach police, Daytona Beach Code Enforcement, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Revenue were all involved in the effort to bust the Florida food stamp scam.