Breaking the Rules

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10417921 - electronic funds transfer

Without rules, life would be chaotic. People would do whatever they want, whenever they wanted, without regard to others. (Hey, that sounds like something a fraudster would do.) According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, two brothers totally disregarded the comprehensive set of rules and regulations established by the Department of Agriculture regarding the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), bilking it of approximately $200,000.

The story states that the two men, who owned a convenience store, agreed to comply with SNAP rules and regulations so they could participate in the government benefits program. Those program rules specifically prohibit the exchange of food stamp benefits for cash or ineligible items. (Even though the defrauding duo agreed to these rules, it didn’t stop them from paying 50 cents on the dollar for the benefits or selling non-food items such as cigarettes.)

The two men pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud and wire fraud. They were ordered to repay $199,605 to the government. (The other $945 was seized by the government.) They are each facing up to five years in prison plus a $250,000 fine.

Some fraudsters might argue that rules are meant to be broken. However, in this case the blatant disregard for government regulations was not tolerated. (It just goes to show that if fraudsters would just follow the rules, no one would get hurt and prisons would be empty.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled ”Brothers Plead Guilty to Food Stamp Fraud at Downtown Shop” written by Rich Lord and published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on April 30, 2014.

Brothers Hadi and Wesam Ibrahim, who own City News and Arcade, Downtown, pleaded guilty today to food stamp fraud and wire fraud, and must repay the government $200,000.

The brothers, who are Syrian natives, applied in 2009 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to accept Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps, though their Wood Street store sold little in the way of approved nutriment, assistant U.S. attorney Tonya Sulia Goodman said at their plea hearing.

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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.