DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - On Monday, local, state and federal agents arrested a convenience store owner they said was using tax dollars to stock his store's shelves.
Bassam Abu Diab denied the fraud that took police three months to uncover at his Daytona Beach store.
Investigators said Abu Diab bought EBT cards or food stamps for pennies on the dollar and then used them to stock his store. Channel 9 learned it’s the second time he is facing the charges.
“Can you tell us just why you were buying these cards for cash?" asked Channel 9’s Blaine Tolison.
“I am not. I was not. How would you know?" said Abu Diab.
“They said you did. That's what police say,” said Tolison.
“Oh, you believe everything police say?" said Abu Diab.
Police also arrested Abu Diab's son, Matthew, who was also accused of buying cards.
“Do you know why your dad was buying those EBT cards?" Tolison asked.
“Hey, (expletive) you,” the son responded.
“The guys are buying these cards, these unscrupulous business owners buy these cards for pennies on the dollar or they allow you to buy beer and cigarettes at an exorbitant price,” said Daytona Beach Police Chief Michael Chitwood.
The Secret Service, state agencies and the DBPD seized $23,000 at the business, a car and computers.
Detectives said over a period of time, Abu Diab's register had $88,000 in EBT card transactions. Detectives said he may have made hundreds of thousands more stocking his shelves with merchandise purchased with EBT cards.
“This guy is running a business on the taxpayers back,” said Chitwood. “It's a fraud. He's unscrupulous and clearly he didn't learn from the last time we hit the store."