On 29 September 2016 the Facebook page Vidmax.com shared a video and a post alleging that a Muslim woman had been filmed committing food stamp (i.e., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) fraud by using her SNAP benefits to purchase a large quantity of soda with the intent of reselling it to others at her store:
Muslim Woman Caught Buying Soda With Food Stamps To Sell In Her Store
Follow us, share this, make the New World Disorder VIRAL!
The web site 100% Fed Up reshared the clip and reiterated a claim that the woman committed food stamp fraud, purporting that she “blatantly admit[ted] to” it in the footage:
A man videotapes a Muslim woman with a huge amount of soda loading it in her car. She blatantly admits to food stamp fraud and gets totally mouthy about how the guy isn’t even a “native” American. These people know how to game the system better than anyone! This bs needs to end!
Although the video was widely shared, many social media users might not have watched the entire clip to determine whether any of the claims were evidenced in its content. The footage begins with a woman unloading a grocery cart full of soda into her vehicle, and the unseen man recording the clip shouts that she “takes our tax money,” “buys a bunch of pop,” and “sell[s] it at [her] gas station.” He then tells individuals off-camera (presumably bystanders) that the woman depicted bought “all that pop on food stamps” to sell at her store. The location of the depicted confrontation was not apparent
The woman bristles at the man’s allegations, leading to the following primary exchange:
WOMAN: “You can’t tell me what to do with my card.”
MAN: “It’s fraud.”
WOMAN: “How is it fraud? Because I went in there and bought all this pop for myself? That’s stereotyping!”
MAN: “What’s your name?”
WOMAN: “My name is ‘fuck America.'”
MAN: “Why don’t you go back to where you came from, then?”
WOMAN: “[laughs] Detroit? I was born in Detroit … why don’t you go where you came from? You’re not Native American … you go back to your country … Fuck out of here.”
The man then records an image of her vehicle’s registration sticker (for a 2000 Lexus) and again warns her she will “get deported.” While the clip’s unseen narrator records and publishes the woman’s vehicle registration, he himself never provides his name, location, or any other information about his identity or purpose in following and interrogating the depicted woman. The clip ends abruptly and consists of little more than bickering between a woman shopping at a store and a man who followed her to her vehicle at night to record her and publish the results online. During the exchange the woman laments the footage is “already viral,” apparently aware that her visual appearance coupled with his accusation assured that the clip would (as it did) become immensely popular on social media.
Although the clip was widely touted as footage of a “Muslim woman caught using food stamps to fraudulently buy soda to sell in her store,” almost no part of any of the claim was verified or verifiable from the clip (save for the ostensible fact the depicted individual was female). Nothing in the video itself demonstrated how the off-screen narrator knew that woman had used SNAP benefits exclusively to purchase the soda, or knew that she was planning to resell the soda at a “gas station.” The woman in the video also didn’t “blatantly admit” to anything, other than referencing the use of food stamps a few times (possibly with the intent of irritating whoever was filming her).
However, a few days after this video went viral, the owner of a Buffalo deli was arrested on charges that he had been buying up other people’s EBT food stamp cards and using them to purchase items to resell at his store:
Ahmed Alshami, 37, is charged with criminal possession of public benefit cards, misuse of food stamps and criminal use of a public benefit card for defrauding the welfare system.
Alshami is the owner and operator of IGA Express Mart, a corner deli at 271 Ludington in the City of Buffalo.
According to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, between October 9, 2014 and March 21, 2016 Alshami is accused of buying EBT (food stamp) cards from people willing to trade them for cash. He usually paid people half of what the cards are worth.
It is alleged that Alshami would use the food stamps to buy items to be sold in his store. I
Alshami’s wife, captured by television cameras at a court hearing, appears to be the same woman as the one seen in the above video:
It’s still unknown at this point whether the woman seen in the video above was in fact using illegally obtained EBT cards to purchase food items for resale at another retail establishment. As of this writing, Alshami’s wife has not been charged with a crime.
The buying of other people’s EBT food stamp cards is a crime, regardless of what use is made of those cards.