Trafficking Stop

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There is a serious black market for food stamps, and the government is even more serious about cracking down on food stamp trafficking. Cleveland.com has the story of a father-and-son team in Ohio, who illegally netted almost a million dollars by trading food stamps for cash, hookah tobacco pipes and calling cards from their convenience store over a 12-year span of time. The clincher? The father had prior convictions for food stamp fraud and trafficking! (But this duo didn’t let the father’s related criminal record deter them.)

They applied for a food stamp vendor license and fraudulently asserted that a relative would own and operate the convenience store where the food stamps were to be distributed. Of course, they also neglected to disclose the father’s ”priors”, as required by law, and his involvement in the store. (”Involvement” seems like an understatement; criminal mastermind might be more appropriate.)

When the law caught up with them, both pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, food stamp fraud and unlawful food stamp redemption and were sentenced to prison time: three years for the son and two and a half years for the father, placing him behind bars until he is nearly 64 years old. The pair also are on the hook for $931,045.48 in restitution. (They’re facing a different kind of redemption now.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on, ”Westlake father, son sentenced to prison for food stamp fraud,” written by Eric Heisig and published by Cleveland.com on May 5, 2016.

A Westlake father and son were sentenced to prison on charges that they illegally redeemed food stamps at their Cleveland convenience store for 12 years. Mahmoud Zayed, 61, was given a two-and-a-half year prison sentence and Ashraf Zayed, 41, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison. The men were also ordered to pay a combined $931,045.48 in restitution.

The men committed fraud when they applied for a food stamp vendor license because they did not disclose that Mahmoud Zayed had prior criminal convictions for food stamp fraud and food stamp trafficking. Once they received the license, the Zayeds traded food stamps for cash, hookah tobacco pipes and calling cards.

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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.