Street Deals

12953783 - closeup of an handcuffed person. vignetting in the corners.

The news is always littered with stories about street deals gone wrong? drugs, money and other sordid tales. What the news typically neglects to shed light upon is the world of food stamp fraud street deals. According to a KARE News article, drug deals may not be the only thing tearing up streets: another scam is generating some interest? trading food stamps for cash.

The article reports that a Minnesota man has been accused of committing food stamp fraud. That’s a big deal in the state. Minnesota, like other states, is making an effort to stop scams that bilk the U.S. government of benefits intended for those actually in need of the assistance. (I ”need” money. Ok, does that count? Uh, no.)

While the defendant is merely accused and deserves his day in court, the case itself offers an interesting look at a new approach to food stamp fraud? trolling the streets outside of homeless shelters for food stamp and other government benefits. (Yes, you read that right.? In the defendant’s case, prosecutors say he waited outside of homeless shelters, hooking up with homeless individuals who are recipients of food stamp benefit cards. They further assert the defendant then took the cards to a local market or grocer to illegally get cash or store credit. Lastly, they say he then returned the benefit cards to the rightful owners, with a cut of the proceeds. The cost to taxpayers for this alleged crime? Nearly $30,000.

Whether the defendant is guilty or not, this case is instructive because it showcases how a fraudster could identify some of society’s neediest individuals and profit from their unfortunate circumstances. At the same time, it is important to point out that the homeless individuals who participate in this type of scheme are likely guilty of defrauding the food stamp program, as well. And, what about the grocers who trade the cards for cash? Someone shows up with multiple cards in at a grocery store and no one finds that suspicious? Sounds a bit fishy to me. All of which begs the question, how does food stamp fraud impact the program nationally? The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that food stamp fraud only amounts to one percent of the program. (And, I’ll say it again? that seems low to me.)

Bottom line? we need a better system so some ”Joe-Schmo” can’t walk into a market or grocer and use the benefits of another. It’s one thing to borrow a few bucks for lunch; it’s another to borrow money you don’t deserve from the government without giving it back. Oh wait…that’s called stealing. Well, at least everyone gets a hot meal in jail.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Man Charged with Food Stamp Fraud,” published by the Kare News on April 22, 2013.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Shakopee man is facing federal charges of food stamp fraud.

Court documents say Chin Son Kim waited outside homeless shelters to find people with food stamp cards. Prosecutors say he took the cards to cooperating markets and used them illegally to get cash or store credit. Then he returned the cards to the owner along with a cut of the profits.

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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.