Minneapolis/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on June 08, 2024
$250 Million Feast of Fraud, Minneapolis Quintet Convicted in COVID-19 Child Nutrition SchemeSource: Jonathunder, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In a case that highlights the depths of criminal audacity during a global crisis, five individuals have been convicted in a Minneapolis federal court for engineering a fraudulent $250 million scheme that preyed on a federal child nutrition program, a lifeline intended for underserved children during the COVID-19 pandemic, this information comes according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The jury delivered guilty verdicts to Abdiaziz Shafii Farah, Mohamed Jama Ismail, Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, Mukhtar Mohamed Shariff, and Hayat Mohamed Nur, implicating them in a wide-reaching deception that misused funds destined for meal reimbursements, with the trials unfolding over six weeks, these trials culminated in convictions that echoed the gravity of their offense, including rampant creation of fake documentation such as meal count sheets, invoices, and attendance rosters filled with fictitious children's names.

U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger praised the prosecution and law enforcement for unraveling the complex network of deceit, adding, "With today's convictions, a total of 23 individuals have been held accountable for their roles in this egregious conspiracy to steal millions of taxpayer dollars," as reported by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Special Agent in Charge Alvin M. Winston of FBI Minneapolis denounced the exploitation of the vulnerable, promising swift and severe justice for such criminal exploitation.

The special agents from the IRS and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service were highly commended for their meticulous investigative tasks that brought the case to its conclusive point, and their ongoing effort to ensure justice is served, noted Inspector in Charge Bryan Musgrove, who specified how the criminals had used the mail system to perpetrate their fraud, in a clear demonstration of greed in a scheme which saw at least $40 million fraudulently extracted from the Federal Child Nutrition Program. Sentencing for the five defendants convicted will be scheduled at a subsequent date.

With 70 individuals charged across separate indictments, the case has become a landmark in the fight against fraud, especially those taking advantage of federal relief efforts designed to mitigate the massive disruptions caused by the pandemic; the Feeding Our Future Fraud scheme is a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities present in times of crisis and the vigilance necessary to protect the public welfare from those who would exploit it. As justice unfolds, the extensive work of the FBI, IRS – Criminal Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is ensuring that these vulnerabilities are not left unguarded.