DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Investigators say a store owner behind a food stamp fraud raked in at least $500,000.
Instead of getting groceries with food stamps, federal prosecutors allege, Tessema Lulseged would give customers cash to spend however they wanted.
No one wanted to answer Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman’s questions when she went to Big T supermarket on Memorial Drive in DeKalb County.
Federal prosecutors say a lot of money exchanged hands – cash for food stamps – and not all of it was legal.
According to a federal indictment obtained only by Channel 2 Action News, the feds have already seized more than $500,000 from the store owner for his alleged involvement in the food stamp scheme. Prosecutors say the scheme went on for at least five years.
Stockman obtained Lulseged's mugshot from a prior arrest in DeKalb County. A store employee and neighbors confirmed he's the man in the mugshot.
Bill Thomas, a former federal prosecutor, is familiar with how these type of schemes work.
“A lot of times they will look at volume and see that some of these mom and pop stores are doing as say much in food stamps as, say, Kroger. Well, obviously that raises a red flag,” Thomas said.
If the owner is convicted, the feds say they will also seize his Gwinnett County home. No one answered the door when Stockman went there Friday evening.
A store employee also gave her the owner's phone number, but the number didn't work, Stockman said.