Do Whatever You Want

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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 AL.com 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 AL.com 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, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.