What a Rip-off


There is no shortage of fraudsters trying to rip off government benefits programs. Add in a natural disaster and the number of criminals lining up to take what is not theirs gets even longer. An article published in Convenience Store and Fuel News reports on two Long Island, New York store owners who stole more than $1.6 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, including assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after Hurricane Sandy struck the area.

One fraudster profiled in the story owned a convenience store and a gas station. Over three years, he and his wife used their corporation to illegally exchange SNAP benefits for cash. He then laundered the proceeds through a bank account set up to process his store’s state lottery sales. (He swindled the SNAP program out of $668,000.)

Another fraudster, who owned a supermarket, ripped off taxpayers by ringing up almost $1 million in fake grocery sales without selling any goods. (The cash was split 50/50 between the supermarket and the SNAP beneficiary, while the USDA was charged for the full value of the fake transactions.)

The 60-year-old convenience store owner was sentenced to 16 months to 48 months in state prison and was ordered to pay more than $566,000 in restitution. His wife, who was also involved in the scheme, received a 60-day jail sentence.

The 43-year-old supermarket owner was sentenced to 30 months to 90 months in state prison and will pay restitution of nearly $975,000. His co-owner received a sentence of 840 hours of community service, while his clerk received a prison sentence of 16 months to 48 months in prison.

Both store owners, who were engaged in SNAP-trafficking, profited from honest taxpayers and those who were truly affected by Hurricane Sandy. (The USDA provided benefits to SNAP recipients in areas affected by the storm so they could start the road to recovery after this natural disaster.) It’s important to know that approximately 30 SNAP recipients were also involved in the scheme and profited off of hundreds of illegal transactions. (They have also pleaded guilty to the misuse of food stamps.) In this case, the free money came with a price for those who tried to use it for the wrong reasons.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Retailers Sentenced in Food-Stamp Fraud Scheme,” published by Convenience Store and Fuel News on May 22, 2015.

HAUPPAUAGE, N.Y. – New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, announced the sentencing of two Long Island store owners who spent years stealing over $1.6 million from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Ravinder Parkash, 60, of Riverhead, N.Y., stole more than $668,000 from the USDA by illegally exchanging SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) benefits for cash and submitting fraudulent transactions for payment at his Riverhead convenience store. Sajjad Rashid, 43, of Rocky Point, an owner and manager of Mastic Supermarket, orchestrated a similar multi year fraud scheme in which he illegally traded cash for almost $1 million in SNAP benefits.

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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.