Stamping Out SNAP Abuse

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Using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits requires an exchange. When they’re used properly, the exchange is between eligible beneficiaries and grocery stores for approved food items. The White Mountain Independent tells the story of an Arizona man who was convicted of felony fraud for using his SNAP benefits to exchange food stamps for heroin. (Definitely not on the eligible food items list.)

The article states that the Arizona’s Department of Economic Security (DES) acted on a tip about the drug trade and collaborated with the Public Assistance Benefits Fraud Unit and the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office to investigate and uncover the unlawful acts. (An encouraging example of state and local law enforcement working well together.)

The Grand Canyon State resident pleaded guilty to two felony charges: a class five felony for fraudulent schemes and a class six felony for unlawful use of food stamps. Upon his conviction, he was sentenced to three years of intensive probation and obliged to pay restitution and court costs. (Perhaps even more importantly, he will be ineligible to apply for or receive food stamps in the future.

The primary goal of the food stamp program is to give low-income families access to balanced, nutritious meals. Thanks to the cooperation of watchdog agencies and law enforcement, abuse and fraud in government assistance programs is being detected, investigated and punished.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Man sentenced for trading food stamps for heroin,” written by Staff reports and published by The White Mountain Independent on December 18, 2015.

SHOW LOW — A Show Low man has been convicted of felony fraud involving food stamps. The Department of Economic Security announced on Wednesday, Dec. 16, that Jason Banta had been convicted on the charges of fraudulent schemes and unlawful use of food stamps.

Banta’s arrest was the result of a joint investigation between the DES Office of the Inspector General, Public Assistance Benefits Fraud Unit and the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office’s Major Crimes Apprehension Team.

DES received a tip that Banta was trading his food stamps for heroin and conducted an investigation which included interviews. The information was turned over to the Navajo County Attorney’s Office, which choose to proceed with formal charges.

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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.