In September of 2022, the Department of Justice announced charges against dozens of people in what was called the largest case of COVID-19 Pandemic fraud in the country. Spearheaded by Aimee Markie Bock, founder of Feeding Our Future, the defendants devised and carried out a massive scheme to defraud the Federal Child Nutrition Program. The defendants obtained, misappropriated, and laundered millions of dollars in program funds that were intended as reimbursements for the cost of serving meals to children. The defendants exploited changes in the program intended to ensure underserved children received adequate nutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than feed actual children, these fraudsters pocketed the money themselves by fraudulently misappropriating the refunds into their own pocketbooks. Over $250 million in Federal Child Nutrition Program funds to be exact. Easy to do when hungry children don’t cry and COVID-19 funds aren’t monitored.
Meals funded by Minnesota’s Federal Child Nutrition Program are called “sites.” Each site participating in the program must be sponsored by an authorized sponsoring organization. Almost like a direct sales company, only not to sell Tupperware. In this case that business models was used for fraud. Mohammed Ali Hussein and Lul Bashir Ali were two of the fraudsters in this plan. Ali and Hussein enrolled their companies, Lido Restaurant and Somali American Faribault Education (SAFE), in the Federal Child Nutrition Program under the sponsorship of Aimee Mark Bocks organization Feeding Our Future. Hussein also paid more than $100,000 in kickbacks to Feeding Our Future personnel in exchange for the nonprofit’s sponsorship of Lido Restaurant and SAFE.
Once Lido Restaurant and SAFE obtained the contracts to prepare meals to be served, the couple submitted fraudulent claims that sought reimbursement for far more meals than Ali’s company actually prepared. In all, they filed fraudulent paperwork claiming to have served almost 2 million meals combined from June 2020 to November 2021. The reimbursements for these falsely reported meals totaled more than $5 million. How many did they serve? Not enough for the court system to even mention.
Kudos to the Department of Agriculture in this case.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Faribault couple plead guilty to $5 million in fraud as part of Feeding Our Future scheme” published by Star Tribune on June 7, 2023
A Faribault, Minn., couple have admitted to federal fraud charges for submitting fake paperwork claiming to feed thousands of children per day to misappropriate more than $5 million in government money as part of the wide-ranging Feeding Our Future scheme.
Mohamed Ali Hussein, 53, and Lul Bashir Ali, 57, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their roles in the $250 million scheme to exploit federal nutrition funds intended to feed underprivileged children during the COVID-19 pandemic.