Downtown Everett Convenience Store Suspected as Hub For Massive Fraud

February 25, 2014

Everett, Everett Economy, Police Blotter

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WA EBT card

Everett Police say EBT cards were at the center of the fraud scheme.

After carrying out an undercover investigation for more than a year and a half, Everett Police and Federal agents raided the A-1 Smoke and Grocery Store at the corner of Colby and Everett avenue in downtown Everett this morning. Here’s the press release just issued by the City of Everett…

Everett Police have arrested a local business owner after an investigation into food-stamp fraud and other crimes. The arrest is the result of an investigation detectives conducted in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with Safeway and Quality Food Centers (QFC) corporate offices.

“This was a labor-intensive effort by our detectives, and their hard work paid off with today’s arrest,” said Chief Kathy Atwood. “Food-stamp fraud is an under-the-radar crime that costs taxpayers millions of dollars every year.”

Just after 9:15 a.m. this morning, officers served a search warrant at A-1 Smoke & Grocery (2625 Colby Ave) and arrested the owner, 34 year-old Fraz Mushtaq at his home in Everett.

Mushtaq is suspected of fraudulently using electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards issued through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Mushtaq allegedly recruited SMAP recipients to purchase merchandise from local businesses and paid them pennies on the dollar for the goods which he resold. Detectives are also investigating claims that Mushtaq knowingly purchased and resold stolen goods from area businesses at A-1. At this point in the investigation, detectives believe he has bilked the system for several hundred thousand dollars. Additionally, Mushtaq is suspected of illegally selling “spice,” a controlled substance.

Everett detectives were assisted by the Washington State Organized Retail Theft Alliance, a group of loss prevention specialists, who assisted with surveillance and other aspects of the investigation. The U.S. Marshal’s office provided financial analysis while the U.S. Department of Agriculture assisted with the investigation.

Mushtaq has been booked into the Snohomish County Jail on charges of food stamp trafficking (RCW 9.91.142), trafficking in stolen property (RCW 9A.82.050) and delivery of a controlled substance (RCW 69.50.401). Detectives will continue their investigation and will forward charges to the Prosecutors Office of money laundering (RCW 9A.83.020) and criminal profiteering (RCW 9A.82).

Also arrested in association with the investigation and search warrant was 37 year-old Ayaz Ahmed of Everett. He will be booked into the Snohomish County Jail on probable cause for trafficking in stolen property (RCW 9A.82.050).


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