Children As Currency

Stethoscope on 100 dollar bills symbolizing financial surveillance

Private schools receive no funding from the U.S. government, so they must get money from other sources. Or they must steal it from the government, which is what Martin Handler did. Handler operated a not-for private school called NYC Early Learning. Beginning in June of 2019, Handler created a fraudulent afterschool program to win contracts from the city and federal government, totaling around $33 million. He would then funnel the fraudulently obtained funds to NYC Early Learning.

But it turns out, Handler was no Robin Hood. He wasn’t just stealing government funds from kids to give to other kids. He was stealing government funds for himself. Handler fancied himself a real estate owner. While the money poured in for the school, Handler bought or invested in a combined $5.5 million in real estate, including a seven-bedroom home in upstate Wurtsboro; a condo in Surfside, Florida, and a three-story, five-unit Crown Heights apartment building.

Handler’s greed is compounded by the conditions of the schools that he stole from. Using children as currency, Handler relentlessly pushed to get more low-income students enrolled so that he could get his hands on more vouchers for government reimbursement. The schools were cited a staggering number of violations for neglectful conditions and lack of qualified staff. 137 violations were issued that were considered critical. 63 violations were issued which were labeled as public safety hazards. Among the violations, inspectors found at least 11 times where employees were not screened for criminal records and at least 11 instances where too few supervisors watched over children.

Great job by the Department of Health and Human Services in this investigation. Using children for any financial gain is unacceptable at every level.

Today’s Fraud Of The Day is based on an article “NYC childcare company racked up hundreds of violations before fraud arrest” by the New York Post o April 15, 2023

A taxpayer-funded childcare provider has racked up nearly 500 violations for inadequate supervision, poor conditions, and failing to do criminal background checks on employees — while its allegedly fraudulent CEO used government cash to buy lavish homes, according to city data and federal prosecutors.

NYC Early Learning Company was cited for a staggering 486 violations in the past three years across 24 locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island, according to city Department of Health data. Of those, at least 137 — 28% — were deemed “critical,” and 63 public safety hazards. The chain logged considerably more violations per facility than any other similar-sized childcare company in the city.


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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.