Vowing to Fraud

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10417921 - electronic funds transfer

Upon getting married, couples have the option to write their own vows, or recite prewritten vows before the official ”I do.’? I’ve been to many weddings, and perhaps it’s protocol to leave the next statement out, but never have I heard? ”I vow to commit Food Stamp fraud with you, in the face of criminal charges and jail time.’? I’m guessing it takes the romantic success out of bilking the government as a couple. According to a KWTX article, one Texas couple had an understanding to defraud until they were caught.

A Waco, Texas business man pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with a food stamp scam he was running out of his store. One week later, the man’s wife pleaded guilty to the same crime. Investigators revealed the man and wife owned and operated a food mart that participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) a.k.a food stamps. The program, operated by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), allows participating stores to accept electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards that are used as currency to purchase food. The USDA later reimburses the store with money in return for the SNAP benefits. (This is a system that is intended to provide assistance to people who are in need of food; criminals have found a way to cash in on those benefits by providing the recipients cash for their benefits.)

The couple explained the process of their fraud, a process similar to most food stamp fraud scams nationwide. (If we experience this problem nationwide, why can’t we implement a system or rule that stops the issue in its tracks? For example, putting picture IDs and names of beneficiaries on the cards for verification.) Both the husband and wife would accept SNAP EBT cards, similar to debit cards, and charge for a specific amount; let’s say $200. They then would pocket 50 percent of the $200 and return $100 cash to the benefits recipient. After submitting their reports to the USDA, the USDA would reimburse the store for all benefits received for ”food.” Investigators believe the couple defrauded the U.S. government out of a total of $350,000. Officials commented that this was the second case of food stamp/SNAP fraud in the Waco, Texas area in recent months.

This couple displays quite the commitment to being criminals amongst their marriage. Perhaps it’s like a Bonnie and Clyde type of thing? ”We fraud together, we go to jail together.”

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Waco: Local Businesswoman Pleads Guilty in Food Stamp Fraud Case”, written by Paul J. Gately, published by KWTX, June 20, 2013.

WACO (June 20, 2013)–Just a week after her husband pleaded guilty to a similar charge, a Waco businesswoman pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to charges in a food stamp abuse case.

U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith set Magdalena Akhter for sentencing on August 14 after she pleaded guilty to an information charging false, fictitious or fraudulent claims.

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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.