Something Smells Fishy

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11425906 - close-up of payment machine while human hand keeping plastic card in it

Fish is smelly by nature. (There are a variety of words that could be used to explain the particular aroma, but pleasant would not be one of them.) An upstate New York fish market owner tried to hide a food stamp scam behind his established business, but the government caught wind of something smelling fishy. It turns out that the fish market owner used his business as a front to run two separate illegal schemes that stole more than $1.4 million in food stamps.

In the first scheme, the fish market owner illegally bought more than $1.2 million worth of food stamps from willing recipients. (There’s always a group of co-conspirators, just swimming around waiting to capitalize on the perfect scam.)For more than six years, the fish market owner exchanged food stamps for cash, although he paid less than half their value. The owner then redeemed the food stamps for their full value.

The second scheme involved convincing food stamp recipients to buy fish from other retail markets by using their electronic benefits cards (EBT). The fish market owner then bought the fish from the co-conspirators at a deeply discounted price. The food stamp beneficiaries benefited by receiving cash for the fish and the owner then sold the fish at his market for a profit of about $250,000. (Hopefully, the fish was still fresh by the time it changed hands and got passed along to unsuspecting consumers.)

The scheme was described as ”breathtaking in scale.” (The smell of the fish and the number of fraudulent transactions were conducted under the guise of a legitimate fish market which definitely can cause investigators to gasp for breath for several reasons.)

The 61-year-old fish market owner pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud and is facing up to five years in prison, plus a $250,000 fine. It looks like this man’s future has been put on ice, much like the products he formerly sold at his market. However, the investigators don’t have to hold their nose anymore as they are now smelling the sweet aroma of a successful prosecution.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Fish Market Owner Pleads Guilty to $1.4 Million Food Stamp Fraud,” published on December 18, 2016.

Irving Feldman, 61, of Pittsford, pleaded guilty to $1.4 million in food stamp fraud schemes in U.S. District Court in Rochester on Friday, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

Feldman faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to New York state federal officials.

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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.