Shortcut to Temporary Success

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A lot of effort goes into running a legitimate business. Success depends upon a competent workforce, sound marketing techniques and good customer service, just to name a few things. A Connecticut man, who worked at a booming grocery business was not successful because of these things, but because he stole from the government. His shortcut to temporary success involved about $1.5 million in illegal transactions with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The employee at the center of today’s case illegally collected federal tax dollars intended to help low-income families obtain nutritious food. He allowed the grocery store’s customers to redeem their food stamp benefits for cash and other ineligible items such as alcohol, cigarettes, paper goods and soaps.

The scam was detected by observing food stamp redemption amounts in the same area as the grocery store. It was estimated that the grocery store in this case could legally redeem between $120,000 and $240,000 per year in food stamps. (The grocery store recorded a booming business over 18 months in which their food stamp redemption amounted to $3.2 million.)

The 64-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful use of food stamp benefits and one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud. He received a 30-month prison sentenced to be followed by two years of supervised release for defrauding the SNAP program. He must also pay $1.5 million in restitution.

As usual, this man did not act alone. Two other employees were involved. One was also sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.5 million for his role in the scam, while a third store employee pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced.

This criminal tried to take a shortcut to success by taking advantage of his store’s ability to collect food stamps. There’s a good chance that this man took a monetary cut from each deal and built himself a nest egg for retirement. (Unfortunately, this man is not headed for retirement. After being released from jail, it’s a safe bet that he will be working for the rest of his life to pay back the $1.5 million debt.)

Source: Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Waterbury grocery store worker sentenced in Food Stamp fraudposted on WTNH.com on July 13, 2017.

HARTFORD, Conn. – A Waterbury man was sentenced Thursday in Hartford to 30 months in prison for defrauding the federal stamp program.

The federal Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (“SNAP”) is administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and uses federal tax dollars to help low-income families pay for more nutritious and essential food. Items such as alcohol,cigarettes, paper goods, and soaps are not eligible for purchase with Food Stamps. It is a violation of the rules to allow benefits of Food Stamps to be used to purchase ineligible items.

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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.