Massachusetts Cracking Down on Convenience Store Fraud

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The Attorney General for Massachusetts has had it with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud, also known as food stamp fraud. In fact, Martha Coakley is behind the effort to severely punish convenience stores caught accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card funds for items such as cigarettes, alcohol and lottery tickets. (Now this IS exciting!) The Boston Herald likened her solution to the death penalty for convenience stores that have been caught profiting from welfare funds spent on state-regulated products. (Go Martha, GO!!!)

This push comes at a time when the owner of a Quincy, Mass., convenience store, who is accused of scamming the state and federal government out of $700,000 in an EBT card scheme, is scheduled for his next appearance. (If the AG gets her way, it looks like the hub for food stamp fraud is about to run out of luck.) The alleged scam involved customers, who travelled from Boston, Braintree, Weymouth and even Maiden, pretending to purchase $200 in groceries, but instead reportedly received $100 in cash while the store would pocket the other $100.

Another high profile case involves a couple who lied about their income to receive $161,000 in food stamps, health insurance and disability benefits. In spite of the husband’s $80,000 a year job with healthcare benefits, the two fraudsters were able to collect the payments over a six-year period. When confronted by investigators, they provided a fake rental agreement. (Oh, we were just kidding.) The couple, who was sentenced to five years of probation, also is required to pay more than $161,000 in restitution.

A Massachusetts state representative filed a bill earlier this year to require the state to conduct identity checks using national databases to ensure that the state is not being scammed. (This is long overdue. Trust, but verify.) Unfortunately, the bill was defeated.

At least the Attorney General is taking a firm stance on convenience store EBT fraud. Perhaps this will get the public engaged in helping to prevent the loss of desperately needed benefits and taxpayer funds to criminals, who want to profit off of the underprivileged.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”AG Out to Punish Stores for EBT Abuse,” written by Chris Cassidy and published in the Boston Herald on August 22, 2013.

BOSTON – Attorney General Martha Coakley is pushing what could amount to a death penalty for convenience stores caught ripping off the EBT system — barring them from selling cigarettes, alcohol and lottery tickets — in a new crackdown on welfare fraud, the Herald has learned.

”We think if you’re violating the law and stealing money from the commonwealth, you shouldn’t be allowed to make money through various (state licenses), like the lottery and cigarettes,” Coakley told the Herald yesterday.

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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.