Two residents of Clifton Park in New York accused of fraudulently collecting more than $43,000 in welfare benefits were arrested this week as a result of a probe conducted by the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security.
The fraud was not the intended target of the probe nor was it the reason that the investigation was initiated. The two federal law enforcement agencies were investigating a local man’s possible connection to an Iranian company. The work involved in that investigation led the agents to the fraud discovery.
46-year-old Mohammad Amir Haghdel and 48-year-old Sara Mohsenizadeh were arrested and between them face several federal charges including multiple counts each of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, third degree grand larceny, and third-degree welfare fraud. They also face misdemeanor charges of making a false written statement.
According to a report filed by the Department of Social Services in Saratoga County, the lead into the possible fraud was developed by agents with Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI while the agencies were investigating Haghdel’s possible illegal employment with an Iranian sanctioned corporation. The details of his employment are not clear but it provided the information that led to the discovery of the welfare fraud that he and Mohsenizadeh were allegedly perpetrating.
The Department of Social Services confirmed that the two suspects submitted applications for government benefits through SNAP, Medicaid, and Heap but did not report Haghdel’s income on the applications. The oversight led to them receiving more than $43,000 in illicit benefits between September of 2009 and August of 2011 then again from September of 2012 through February of 2014.
The suspects were sharing an apartment in Clifton Park and each posted their respective $1,000 bail. Homeland Security and FBI officials say they are pleased with the outcome of their investigation and the fact that they “got more than they bargained for” from the arrests.