Iranian scam artists
By Ashkan Yekrangi
April 14, 1999
One typical Wednesday night here in southern California, I turned on
the TV and tuned to one of my favorite shows, 20/20. What I was about to
learn that night would shock me: well-to-do Iranians on welfare. Was it
possible? This group of people I had always thought of so highly was cheating
the system? How could it be?
That night, 20/20 was doing a special story on how people scam the system
and go on welfare even though they are not poor. As usual, 20/20 targeted
people and asked why they were using poor people's money to fuel their
Then I noticed the all-too-familiar Iranian accent and the reporter
said "these Iranian immigrants..." and as soon as those words
were uttered, my body shuddered and a cold sensation overtook me. I thought
to myself "aaberoomoon raft."
As the story unfolded, the two Iranian couples owned a jewelry store,
a Mercedes Benz and had just finished remodeling their house. I was furious
watching Iranians cheating the system and taking money away from people
who truly need it.
At my aunt's house, I summarized the story for her and she replied with
"aareh, kheyli az eerooniyaa een kaaro mikonan." What? I though
to myself. This isn't an isolated incident? She proceeded to tell me of
a lady relative of her friend who moved back to Iran and is STILL on welfare.
She said the lady could not survive without the money.
I was overwhelmed with sadness. I never, in my wildest imagination,
thought Iranians would cheat the welfare system purely out of greed. And
soon after, I thought how could such a wonderful system be fooled so easily?
How in the world can this citizen-gone-bad, who makes yearly visits to
the United States, be on welfare without being caught?
And what can we do? We should take a strong stand against "the
bad ones" who engage in illegal activity.
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