Following the Fraud Crowd

In this rear view, an unrecognizable woman stands with a shopping cart in front of a shelf full of food in the bread aisle of a grocery store.

One of the most common food stamp fraud schemes involves retailers who conduct fraudulent transactions with food stamp beneficiaries through their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. A Jacksonville, Florida couple followed the food stamp fraud crowd and masterminded a $257,000 scam through two convenience stores they owned in the area.

It wasn’t long after the two convenience store owners received approval to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as a retailer that they began training their employees how to carry out fraudulent transactions using their customers’ EBTs.  (The convenience store owners used their approval to participate in SNAP as an approval to defraud.)

 Over 27 months, the store owners instructed their employees to carry out fraudulent transactions, making it appear that the food stamp beneficiaries were buying eligible food products. The employees gave the food stamp recipients around 50 percent of the benefits spent on the fraudulent transactions and kept the remaining amount for the store owners, which totaled $257,979. (I’m guessing that the employees who took part in the fraudulent scheme also got a small cut of the money they raked in.)

The 62-year-old husband and his 65-year-old wife from Jacksonville both pleaded guilty to running a food stamp fraud scheme through their two Jacksonville store locations. They are facing a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and restitution. Eleven employees, who have also pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud, have already been sentenced to supervised release and must pay back $218,629.67. (Well, you know what they say about those who follow the fraud crowd…they eventually end up in prison.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Jacksonville convenience store owners plead guilty in food stamp scam, published by The Florida Times – Union on August 9, 2019.

A Jacksonville couple who own two convenience stores pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a $257,000 food stamp scam.

Russell Leroy Dotson Jr., 62, and Maria Luisa Dotson, 65, each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and payment of restitution to the United States.

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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.