NEWARK, N.J. — The owner of four dollar stores in Essex and Union counties has been charged with money laundering and other crimes. Investigators determined that more than $5 million in fraudulent food stamp transactions occurred at his stores.
The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Essex County Prosecutor's Office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Muhammed Farooq, 49, of Somerset, N.J., was arrested May 8 and charged with money laundering, theft by deception and food stamp fraud.
According to court documents, Farooq was allowing patrons to buy non-food items – such as electronics – with food stamps. He owns two stores in Newark, and one each in East Orange, N.J., and Elizabeth, N.J. The purchases went on for nearly 30 months and totaled roughly $5.2 million.
A search of Farooq's home resulted in the seizure of $150,000 in cash, six computers, electronic food stamp machines and detailed business records.