Mediterranean Market owners charged in $1.4M EBT fraud scheme

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two brothers who ran the now-closed Mediterranean Market on Fulton Avenue were indicted Thursday on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, linked to a 6-year span of helping customers use their EBT cards to get cash and ineligible items from the business.

Zayed and Kayed Bouri, who are both out of custody, will make their initial appearances on May 5th for an alleged series of crimes that took place from 2011 to 2017 as part of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that fleeced the government to the tune of $1.4 million.

According to papers filed with the court by a grand jury, the brothers allowed customers to use their SNAP benefits to receive ineligible items including hookah pipes, pots, pans, and phone cards. The SNAP credits would be paid to the store’s account in the form of cash from the federal government.

If the customers didn’t have enough on their EBT cards to pay for an item, the brothers and their employees would allow the customers to buy items on credit, sometimes holding their cards as collateral. They would later log in using their card information and remove the debt.

The grand jury detailed five transactions where the brothers were allegedly caught on video conducting SNAP transactions for hundreds of dollars, sometimes with nobody at the register and other times with a customer who left with nothing.

On April 27th, 2017, according to court documents, federal agents executed a search warrant at the market and found $37,000 in cash in the back room. During the search, officials say, Kayed admitted that the cash was linked to fraudulent SNAP transactions and admitted to illegally exchanging benefits for cash with over a dozen customers. Over $100,000 was later seized from the brothers by the US Secret Service pursuant to a court-order.

When The Update called a number previously held by the store, an automated voice revealed it was disconnected. The store is marked as “permanently closed” on Google and the business name has since been registered under a new owner, according to county records.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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