Above Average

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30445796 - hand receiving money from businessman - united states dollar (usd) bills

Most of the time, it is good to be above average. (For example, if your child scores above average on a college entrance exam, that means they may have a better chance of getting into the college of their choice.) An article published in The Tampa Tribune explains how a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – approved store collected more than the average amount of benefits compared to similar stores in the area. (The above-average proceeds got the owner in trouble for taking what he did not deserve.)

The article states that over one-and-a-half years, the meat market business owner and two clerks conspired to steal more than $2 million from the federal food stamp debit program. The co-conspirators used a practice commonly referred to as ”cash back” or ”discounting” which involved charging double the food stamp recipient’s request and keeping half of the proceeds. (For example, if the beneficiary asked for $100, the business owner charged $200 and kept half for himself.)

Investigators became suspicious when the store brought in more than 22 times the average amount in SNAP redemptions for one month compared to other similar stores in Florida. (That was definitely a red flag otherwise you might think that there were a large percentage of hungry carnivores living in that area.)

The 48-year-old meat market owner was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. He also was ordered to pay back $2,110,778. His co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty to their part in the crime as well.

While being above average is considered to be a good thing, in this particular case it was not. This meat market owner will definitely have to get used to a different diet in prison while serving out his time. No more prime cuts of meat for sure. (Perhaps after 18 months of incarceration, he will emerge as a vegetarian.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”$2 Million Food Stamp Fraud Gets Lakeland Store Owner 18 Months,” published by The Tampa Tribune on May 5, 2015.

A Lakeland business owner whose food stamp scheme stole more than $2 million from the federal government was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, authorities say.

Basem Abualteen, 48, also must pay back the $2,110,778 he is accused of stealing between January 2013 and August 2014, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.