Do Whatever You Want

11425906 - close-up of payment machine while human hand keeping plastic card in it

If someone handed you a stack of cash and told you to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? (Would you go on a shopping spree, make a bank deposit or stash it under your mattress for safe keeping?) An article posted on tells the story of a convenience store owner who netted $6.5 Million by exchanging a boat load of food stamps for cash, allowing the beneficiaries to do whatever they wanted to with the remaining change.

The story states that the Metro Atlanta store owner paid food stamp beneficiaries 60 cents per dollar of benefits sold, and then required them to spend another 10 percent of the cash on eligible goods from the store. (For example, for every one hundred dollars in benefits sold, the store owner kept $40 in cash, gave the shoppers $60 and then made them spend another $10 at the store. Technically, the food stamp beneficiaries got $50 in cash.)

Investigators were able to detect the scheme, which went on for more than five years, by comparing the food stamp benefits exchange rate with similar stores. (It’s a pretty sure bet that something illegal is going on when a mom and pop shop does more business in food stamps than a national grocery chain.)

The 49-year-old convenience store owner pleaded guilty to taking taxpayer money through the fraudulent operation. His home and store were seized by the government as proceeds from the fraud and money laundering operation. He is facing up to 20 years in prison.

This fraudster used his customers to help make him a fortune, but unfortunately, he won’t be allowed to keep any of the proceeds. He will be required to give back the money that he took from vulnerable beneficiaries and will no longer be able to do what he wants.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Georgia Store Owner Pleads Guilty in $6.5 Million Food Stamp Fraud Scheme,” posted on on July 8, 2015.

Federal prosecutors say a metro Atlanta convenience store owner has pleaded guilty in a $6.5 million food stamp fraud scheme.

Authorities say 49-year-old Tessema Lulseged of Decatur pleaded guilty to allowing customers exchange food stamp benefits at Big T Supermarket for cash.

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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.