Told You So

Cropped shot of a woman holding a basket while shopping at a grocery store

On February 9, 2023, Fraud Of The Day issued a Vulnerability Alert, highlighting the increased trend by fraudsters who were taking advantage of the SNAP system by card skimming.  We would like to say we were wrong, but a crackdown in Los Angeles on March 2,, 2023 only provided evidence of support to our warning. Not even a month after our alert, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles announced the arrest of fifteen people who allegedly used information from “skimmed” electronic benefit transfer cards to make unauthorized withdrawals of funds that had been disbursed to the poorest residents of Southern California.

EBT fraud has grown rampant across the country. But over the last year and a half, southern California has really seen a spike. Los Angeles County officials say more than $19.6 million in EBT benefits was stolen in 2022. More than twenty times the amount stolen in 2021. The theft of SNAP benefits from ATM’s were occurring in the early morning of the first few days of every month. Just after the state deposits beneficiary’s food and cash aid onto their EBT cards. Thousands of dollars were being stolen and no end was in sight. Thus, the establishment of Operation Urban Justice, the team built to target these fraudsters.

On the morning of March 1, 2023, more than 300 law enforcement officers, began monitoring about twenty ATM locations across the Los Angeles area and identified the fraudsters who were making multiple cash withdrawals with cards that had been stolen SNAP benefit cards. Authorities arrested fifteen fraudsters, which led to the recovery of 429 fake EBT cards and $129,000 in cash.

Great job by the L.A. field office of the Secret Service in the dismantling of this very sophisticated scheme. And shout out to the Romanian National Police. Eleven of the fifteen arrested were Romanian nationals.

Today’s Fraud Of The Day is based on article “15 arrested across L.A. County in crackdown on fraudulent benefit cards” published by the Los Angeles Times on March 2, 2023

Local and federal authorities have arrested 15 people in Los Angeles County suspected of cloning Electronic Benefit Transfer cards and using them to drain the funds of Southern California’s poorest residents, the Justice Department said Thursday.

More than 300 police officers and federal agents made the arrests early Wednesday while monitoring roughly 20 ATMs across the county, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. The arrests — part of a fraud crackdown dubbed Operation Urban Justice — led to the recovery of 429 fake EBT cards and $129,000 in cash, authorities said.

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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.