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Aaberoo reezi
Iranian scam artists

By Ashkan Yekrangi
April 14, 1999
The Iranian

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 greedy desires.

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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