Not Genuine

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Genuine is not usually a characteristic you could use to describe fraudsters; however, an article published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells about two brothers who were genuine in their attempts to commit food stamp fraud through the East St. Louis market they owned together. Their actions were pretty straightforward when it came to committing fraud in a variety of manners, resulting in a loss of approximately $1.6 million to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The article details that the siblings paid cash to SNAP customers for 50 to 60 percent of their benefits value and kept the remaining amount for themselves. They also illegally accepted SNAP benefits for non-qualified items including tobacco, cell phones and purses. (I suppose you could eat those items, but I don’t think they’d taste very good.)

Apparently, the brothers also admitted paying less than face value for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) vouchers. (Did I mention that they also prepared two false tax returns and trafficked counterfeit goods such as DVD’s, watches and hats through their market?)

The brothers, both in their mid-forties, pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud, filing false tax returns and trafficking counterfeit goods. They are scheduled to be sentenced for the conspiracy that went on for about two years. Five of their employees have also pleaded guilty in the case.

It’s safe to say that these fraudsters are genuinely in trouble for not running a legitimate business. When their market qualified to accept SNAP benefits, they agreed to adhere to the government program’s rules, not steal benefits from those who truly deserved to receive assistance. It remains to be seen what sentences will be handed down by the judge, but we can count on the penalties to be the real deal. These siblings will have to pay for their crimes.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Two Swansea Brothers Admit Running Food Stamp Fraud Ring through their East St. Louis Markets,” published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on May 12, 2015.

EAST ST. LOUIS – Two Swansea brothers have pleaded guilty to charges saying they engaged in food stamp fraud, filed false tax returns, and trafficked counterfeit goods.

Qais Hussein, 44, and Majdi Odeh, 45, appeared in federal court in East St. Louis on Monday. They owned Garden Grill Market Inc. and Garden Grill Market II Inc. in East St. Louis. They admitted to falsely acquiring more than $1 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits, formerly known as food stamps, federal officials say.

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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.