Two people have been charged with stealing millions of dollars in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program out of a New York City bodega one of them owned.

Two people have been charged with stealing millions of dollars in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program out of a New York City bodega one of them owned. 

Dawood Kassim, 31, and Dia Alqalisi, 26, allegedly made thousands of transactions through SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program, out of a bodega in Brooklyn that Kassim owned, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a news release Tuesday.

Typically through the SNAP Program, which uses federal tax dollars to subsidize low-income households, recipients use an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to make purchases for household needs and food. 

From April 2022 through December 2022, Kassim and Alqalisi allowed SNAP recipients to exchange their benefits for cash or non-SNAP eligible goods like beer at Throop Farm Market in Bedford-Stuyvesant, prosecutors said. In turn, they kept a portion of the benefits for themselves as payment, they added.

Kassim also allegedly stole SNAP benefits from “unsuspecting victims” by using counterfeit and stolen SNAP EBT cards at the bodega, the release said.

“The victims of the defendants’ crimes included recipients of SNAP benefits residing in Tennessee, Virginia and California, among other states,” prosecutors said.

In total, through these trafficked and stolen transactions, the duo received more than $20 million dollars in federally funded SNAP benefits, including over $7 million dollars’ worth of SNAP benefits from accounts of recipients living outside of New York. 

They were arrested Tuesday morning and charged with SNAP fraud, access device fraud and unlawful monetary transactions, according to an indictment.

It’s not immediately clear if they have retained attorneys.

Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, condemned the defendants’ actions saying they “illegally” profited from benefits intended for “those in need of nutritious meals — which is especially vital in these times of high food costs.”

“The arrests today should be a wakeup call to those who think government programs are a piggy bank they can pillage without fear of consequences,” he added.


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