It's a crime that may have gone undetected for years. Millions of dollars are being shipped out of the country in suitcases, while the state of Minnesota is paying millions to daycare centers that aren't actually watching children.
Some of this welfare money reportedly ends up in the hand of terrorist groups, including al-Shabaab.
Here's what you need to know: First, the daycare scam
According to an extensive investigation by KMSP-TV, some "daycare" centers in Minnesota are part of an elaborate scam to defraud the state. Parents receive kickbacks for signing their children up for these centers, but not actually dropping them off. The centers then file for millions in state subsidies.
At least 10 of these daycare centers are currently being investigated for fraud, and KMSP reports that there are dozens more that are considered "suspicious."
Apparently, the fraud has reached such an enormous scale that people are even buying shares of these "daycare" companies, to get a cut of the profits. The scam could be costing Minnesota up to $100 million a year.
Chuck Johnson, acting commissioner for the Department of Human Services, told KMSP, "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."
Then the suitcases full of cash
There's a second scam reportedly going on in the state, and investigators think that the two are directly connected. Carry-on bags full of money are being flown out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, at least one of which was carrying one million dollars in cash. It's legal for passengers to carry large amounts of cash, as long as they declare it, but these cash shipments added up to more than $100 million in 2017 alone.
Glen Kern, a former police detective and a member of the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, told KMSP that he had tracked at least some of the money to a region of Somalia controlled by the al-Shabaab terrorist group. Even if the money is not going directly to this group, al-Shabaab demands a cut.
This fraud-to-terrorism scam may be only the tip of the iceberg. KMSP cites sources that claim the same type of scenario is being set up in other states, using the success of the Minnesota scam as a model.