Fish Story

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You’ve probably heard stories about the “one” that got away. (They always tend to be described as some monstrosity that has never been seen before.) The owner of a fish market in northeast Rochester, New York tried to get away with a monstrous $1.4 million in food stamp fraud, but the federal government smelled something fishy and reeled him in.

The fish market owner at the center of today’s fraud article is the son of the original owner who opened the doors of the corner store in 1954. The son, who changed the name of his father’s original business, carried out the scheme to illegally redeem food stamps over nearly six years. He bought food stamp benefits for less than half their full value. (Then he redeemed them for a considerable profit with the federal government, netting more than $1.2 million.)

The second scheme the fish market owner masterminded involved asking beneficiaries to use their food stamps to purchase fish from other markets. Then, they exchanged their purchases at the fraudster’s fish market for cash. (The food stamp beneficiaries used the cash to buy things that were not normally allowed under the government program, while the fish store owner received inventory he could mark up and sell at full price.) He made about $200,000 from the second illegal scam.

The 62-year-old from Pittsford, a suburb of Rochester, pleaded guilty to $1.4 million in food stamp fraud. He was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay $729,630 in restitution.

Business owners who are authorized to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are forbidden from exchanging food stamps for cash. (Unfortunately, this corner fish market owner was lured by greed and he took the bait.) It looks like the fishmonger’s line to a steady stream of benefits has been cut and he’s been thrown into the deep, dark waters of the justice system.

 Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Joseph Avenue fishmonger sentenced in $1.4M food stamp scheme,” published by the Democrat & Chronicle on February 7, 2018.

The owner of a long-established fish market in northeast Rochester was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison after admitting guilt in a $1.4 million food stamp fraud scheme.

Irving Feldman, a 62-year-old Pittsford resident, pleaded guilty in late 2016 to food stamp fraud in U.S. District Court in Rochester. He was also ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. to pay $729,630 in restitution.

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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.