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Store Owner Sentenced in Food Stamp Fraud Case

Feb 5 | 2013  by

The Bridge Card is a debit-card-like device that electronically tracks food stamp benefits for those in need, funded by taxpayer dollars. For Noha Fofana and Akhir McFarland, however, the bridge card represented an opportunity to pull in revenue at the Mandingo African Market.

Fofana and others at the Mandingo African Market would obtain card numbers and call them into the store, where they would be manually entered into the system allowing for the transference of benefits from the card to the store’s bank account.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says that Fofana, the owner of Mandingo African Market, pulled in more than $750,000 in food stamp benefits from February 2009 to July 2011. State officials have calculated Mandingo’s average food stamp redemption amount – $26,798 per month – which stands in stark contrast to other convenience stores in the area that only redeem approximately $5,479.

As a result of the fraudulent scheme, Fofana was sentenced to four years, three months in prison. Moreover, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ordered Fofana to pay $612,980.96 in restitution to the USDA-Food and Nutrition Service.

“We hope that other merchants will become aware of prosecution like this one and be deterred from engaging in similar fraud schemes,” McQuade said.

If you have any questions about criminal or fraudulent activity, contact Mark Mandell or Tariq Hafeez of Fausone Bohn, LLP at (248) 380-0000.

To learn more and read the original article, please visit the CBS Detroit website.