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Break That Number Down

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Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

California lost more than $108 million in CalWORKs benefits (cash aid to dependent families) in 2023. Maybe this number isn’t as bad as it sounds, since no one seems to be attempting to implement chip technology for the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to prevent such fraud. Let’s break it down to be more palatable! The Department of Social Services says most of the SNAP benefits stolen are in the first five days of every month. $108 million divided by twelve months makes for $9 million a month. $9 million divided by five days, makes for $1,800,000 in one day. Still seems horrifying. Especially after learning that forty-eight suspected with ties to Romanian organized criminal organizations have been arrested for stealing millions those SNAP benefits.

At various locations in Orange County, these suspects installed skimming devices with the capability to record, store or transmit data, often through Bluetooth technology. Fraudsters using technology more modern than the government? No shocker there. The information recovered from or transmitted by these skimming devices would then be used to make charges or withdraw funds from a victim’s account without the victim’s consent, knowledge, or authorization.

It has been determined that these fraudsters have entered the United States through illegal border crossings. No shocker there either. Several of the individuals arrested are juveniles under the age of 14. Still no shocker. All proceeds from these schemes were funneled to organized crime families in Romania but after suspects posted inspiration quotes like “Don’t love what isn’t yours, you can make it yours” along with pictures of themselves driving luxury cars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, flaunting Rolex watches, and wearing designer clothes and shoes. Next posting from these guys will be from prison wearing orange jumpsuits.

Excellent initiative by the Operation EBT Integrity team led by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “48 Romanian-affiliated suspects arrested for stealing millions in EBT funds from O.C. residents” published by New Santa Ana on January 19, 2024

Forty-eight suspects believed to be tied to Romanian organized criminal organizations have been arrested across Orange County in countywide operation to crack down on skimming operations targeting recipients of public assistance funds intended to pay for basic necessities including diapers, formula, and food, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer and law enforcement officials announced at a press conference today.

Among those arrested is Florin Duduianu, one of Romania’s most wanted criminals, who has since been indicted by a federal grand jury for fraudulently accessing government assistance funds, according to the OCDA.

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