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Shared Burden

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Two heads are better than one. Or at least in a business partnership it normally should be. A business partnership can be a mutually beneficial alliance where both professionals share business ideas, knowledge, resources, risks, and rewards. The burden is shared. Partners support one another through thick and thin. Except when it comes to fraud. Then maybe not so much.  

Uttam Halder owned and operated a small meat market in Atlanta called Big Daddy’s Discount Meat (discount? really?) and was enrolled as a retailer for the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Business was good for Halder. But then he met Paltu Roy, the operator of Big Brother Mini Supermarket and Food World, and a business partnership was born. Halder agreed to relocate the EBT terminals from his Big Daddy stores to Roy’s Big Brother Supermarkets and share the profits. A big no-no according to the Department of Agriculture. SNAP terminals stay where they are approved to be. But fraudsters don’t follow rules. Especially where there is more money to be had at Roy’s store. After relocating the EBT terminals, both stores made cash payments to customers in return for redeeming their SNAP benefits at the rate of roughly 50 cents on the dollar.

Big Daddy’s terminals collected more than $10 million in fraudulent redemptions of SNAP benefits before their scheme was discovered. But Roy and Halder’s partnership didn’t sustain the investigation. Following his arrest in January 2021, Halder was released on bond when he fled leaving Roy behind to face the music alone. Halder went missing for two years. In June 2023, authorities in Turkey located Halder attempting to enter Istanbul from Cancun, Mexico.  

Great job by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in this investigation.

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on “DeKalb men plead guilty to food stamp fraud” published by The Champion on September 22, 2023  

U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan announced on Sept. 19 that a DeKalb County man pleaded guilty to a series of charges stemming from a $10 million scheme to purchase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from low-income recipients.

Uttam Halder, 42, of Decatur, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of failure to appear after he fled to Istanbul following his arrest. Buchanan’s office said in June 2023, authorities in Turkey located Halder attempting to enter Istanbul from Cancun, Mexico and returned him to the United States to be placed in custody – where he joined his co-conspirator who had already pleaded guilty.

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