COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The former owners of a Somali specialty market have been charged with food stamp fraud.
A federal grand jury has charged Hassan and Abdurahim Nuriso, former owners of Towfiq Market on Sullivant Avenue, with conspiring fraudulently to redeem more than $10 million in SNAP and WIC benefits between 2010 and 2019.
“It’s very clear in all the regulations what you can and can’t do,” said Asst. U.S. Attorney David Bosley. “You can’t give food stamps for cash, you can’t buy items that are not allowed under the food stamp program, you can’t buy things that aren’t food, and you can’t give credit.”
As part of the alleged conspiracy, the Nuriso brothers are accused of converting illegally obtained food stamp benefits, WIC coupons, and WIC electronic benefits into money, in order to use the money for other purposes.
The five-count indictment also alleges the Nuriso’s allowed SNAP and WIC beneficiaries to purchase items that were not redeemable through the food stamp or WIC programs.
Yahya Mohammed owns a barbershop in the same west side plaza. He says Abdurahim Noriso was well-intentioned.
“I know it’s wrong, but he’s really just helping his community out,” Mohammed said. “People are just trying to survive. They get food stamps, but they can’t buy a lot of things with food stamps.”
In total, Hassan and Abdurahim Nuriso are alleged to have redeemed in excess of $8 million of SNAP benefits and nearly $2.1 million in WIC benefits at Towfiq Market between 2010 and November 2019. The government alleges a majority of those redemptions were fraudulent.
NBC4 was unable to reach either of the Nuriso brothers for comment.