THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! Our government is handing out millions to sham daycare centers run by Somali Muslims who came to the US as refugees. They’re now scamming and stealing taxpayer dollars. Millions of taxpayer dollars appear to be going to support terrorists in the Middle East and Africa by using childcare centers as fronts, according to an investigation in Minnesota.
One recent case was a sham daycare center that received hundreds of thousands of dollars:
Local Fox affiliate Fox 9 KMS tracked the flow of the money and found it was going to parts of the world that raised serious red flags. Thank goodness this is finally being investigated and brought to the forefront. As it turns out, there are “dozens” more suspicious daycare centers that are being investigated.
As Alpha News reported in 2015:
“Deqo daycare center, which had three locations in Apple Valley, St. Paul, and Minneapolis was shut down in 2013 due to licensing violations and prosecutors charged husband and wife Ahmed Aden Mohamed and Yasmin Abdulle Ali for bilking the state out of nearly $3.7 million, $3.1 million of which was collected from April 2012-January 2013. The duo had recruited more than 100 parents to enroll their own children in the program.”
FOX 9 reports:
The investigation revealed suitcases with millions of dollars, an estimated $100 million in 2017 alone, have been taken through Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and to destinations in the Middle East and Africa, including parts of Somalia controlled by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab.
The funds have originally come from daycare centers that receive funding from the government for child care benefits. However, the daycare centers in many cases are not actually watching children, with video footage from outside one center showing a mother taking children in, only to leave minutes later. The center billed the government as though the children were there all day. Another video appears to show a payment from a man to a mother as a cut for her assistance with the scheme.
The money appears to be moved by “hawalas,” people who carry out the transfer of money to people from the United States to places where there is no formal banking system. After the money is brought out of the country, it is often brought to relatives. Glen Kerns, a retired Seattle Police detective and former member of the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, said at least some of the money is going to al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups.
“I talked to a couple of sources who had lived in that region and I said, ‘If money is going to this Hawala do you think it is going to al-Shabaab?’” Kerns said. “And he said, ‘Oh definitely, that area is controlled by al-Shabaab, and they control the Hawala there.’”
A number of daycare centers in Minnesota are currently under investigation or being considered suspicious. In previous daycare fraud schemes in Minnesota, funds used to be transferred out of the United States electronically, but authorities cracked down on the practice.
Money may legally be carried out of the country in luggage, but it must be declared on government forms.
In response to the Fox 9 investigation, the Minnesota State Senate scheduled a hearing to take up the matter Tuesday.
To better understand the connection between daycare fraud and the surge in carry-on cash, you have to look at the history of this crime.
Five years ago the Fox 9 Investigators were first to report that daycare fraud was on the rise in Minnesota, exposing how some businesses were gaming the system to steal millions in government subsidies meant to help low-income families with their childcare expenses.
“It’s a great way to make some money,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.
In order for the scheme to work, the daycare centers need to sign up low income families that qualify for child care assistance funding.
Surveillance videos from a case prosecuted by Hennepin County show parents checking their kids into a center, only to leave with them a few minutes later. Sometimes, no children would show up.
Either way, the center would bill the state for a full day of childcare.
Video from that same case shows a man handing out envelopes of what are believed to be kickback payments to parents who are in on the fraud.
When asked where the money was going, Freeman said, “I don’t know exactly where it went. But it adds up when you begin to look at how many people were involved.”
One recent federal case points to at least some of the money going overseas.
Fox 9 obtained video of Fozia Ali being sworn in as a member of the city of Hopkins Park Board.
“I will support the constitution of the United States,” she said.
As she was taking her oath of office, she was also under investigation for wire fraud and theft of public money.
“So help me God,” she said during the ceremony.
State and federal agents had already raided Ali’s daycare center in south Minneapolis. The business was suspected of billing the government for more than a million dollars’ worth of bogus childcare services.
“We found records that she was collecting a significant amount of money for a much larger number of children than were actually attending the center,” said Craig Lisher from the FBI. “We are aware that some of the funds went overseas, what she was cashing out, money from the business.”
When asked if he had any idea of what it was going for he said, “I can’t say.” When pressed if he can’t say or doesn’t know he responded, “I can’t say.”
Investigators analyzed Ali’s cell phone to track her activities.
She took a two-month trip from Minnesota to Dubai and then Kenya, staying at times in $800 a night hotel rooms.
She used an app on her phone to bill the state of Minnesota for childcare services while she was out of the country.
Ali pled guilty to the daycare fraud and in March started serving time in a federal prison. She declined Fox 9’s request for an interview.
10 DAYCARES UNDER ACTIVE INVESTIGATION
“We believe that there’s a scope of fraud out there that we really need to get our arms around and ensure that those dollars are going to kids that really need them,” Acting Commissioner for the Department of Human Services Chuck Johnson said.
He told the Fox 9 Investigators his agency has 10 daycares currently under active investigation for fraud.
Fox 9 has learned dozens more are considered suspicious.
Search warrants obtained by the Fox 9 Investigators show each one of the suspect centers has received several million dollars in childcare assistance funds.
According to public records and government sources, most are owned by Somali immigrants.
When asked if the Department of Human Services has any evidence to suggest this looks like organized crime, Johnson responded, “There’s a common pattern in how a lot of these are carried out, but beyond that, not something that I would directly categorize as organized crime.”
Sources in the Somali community told Fox 9 it is an open secret that starting a daycare center is a license to make money.
The fraud is so widespread they said, that people buy shares of daycare businesses to get a cut of the huge public subsidies that are pouring in.
Government insiders believe this scam is costing the state at least a hundred million dollars a year, half of all child care subsidies.
“I don’t think half sounds credible,” Johnson said. “I certainly think that some of the schemes that we’re seeing and certainly the ones that we’ve brought forward already for prosecution involve millions of dollars. I mean this is not a small scale that we’re looking at.”
TRACKING THE MONEY?
Minnesota started aggressively going after daycare fraud in 2014. Back then, it was easier to track the flow of money.
The state would pay a daycare’s bill and within hours of the money showing up in the business’s bank account, funds were being wired to the United Arab Emirates.
Those wire transfers stopped after a few centers were busted.
Which brings us back to those mysterious suitcases at Minneapolis-St. Paul International.
In 2015, investigators documented $14 million in carry on cash. By 2016, it had mushroomed to $84 million. Then last year, $100 million.
A trend all too familiar to former terrorism investigator Glen Kerns.
Fox 9 asked him how likely it is that some of the money is going towards terrorism?
“I say absolutely, our sources tell us that. Good sources, from the community leaders,” he said. “My personal opinion is we need a nationwide task force to clamp down on this type of fraud.”
This crime is spreading. Sources tell Fox 9 fraudsters in other states are now using the Minnesota playbook to rip off millions of public dollars meant to help kids.