Two Brownsville women were sentenced to Federal prison Wednesday for their roles in a $1.2 million food stamp fraud that included but not limited to buying nearly 50 tons of cheese slices, the U.S. Department of Justice said. That is about 4,900 slices!
Ana Rioja, 51, and Maria Consuelo de Ureno, 55, pled guilty to conspiring to commit and committing fraud against the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, from September 2014 to August 2019, and they didn’t just limit themselves to cheese.
Rioja reportedly owned a meat market, called Border Meats where an unidentified group of co-conspirators would exchange SNAP benefits for cash (“cash” is not on the list of approved items to buy with food stamps) using a point-of-sale device at the store. For instance, Rioja redeemed $225.91 in food stamp benefits for $150 cash to an undercover agent. That is a nice profit for an easy transaction for a fraudster!
Ureno would than fraudulently use those food stamps benefits at Sam’s Wholesale Club to buy food that was then sold to a partner and transported to Mexico.
Product sizes at Sam’s are larger than average sizes at regular stores and Ureno’s purchased quantities were larger than average too. Purchases included at least 49.1 tons of American cheese slices, 22.3 tons of pinto beans, 1.6 tons of Folgers coffee, 1.4 tons of instant mashed potatoes and over 5,000 gallons of mayonnaise.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera Jr. sentenced Rioja to a 30-month term of imprisonment that will be immediately followed by one year of supervised release. Ureno was sentenced to 37 months, followed by a three-year term of supervised release.
Officials say Ureno could also face the loss of her legal status in the United States and removal proceedings after her release from prison. Judge Olvera also ordered Rioja and Ureno to pay restitution in full.
Great job to the Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Agriculture for working together to stop Rioja and Ureno from continuing to fraud the Food Stamp program.
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, posted by WILX News on March 11, 2022
2 women sent to prison for committing $1.2M in food stamp fraud
WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Two women were given prison sentences following convictions for $1.2 million in food stamp fraud.
Ana Rioja, 51, and Maria Consuelo de Ureno, 55, pleaded guilty on May 12, 2021, to conspiring to commit and committing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program fraud, reported by KWTX.