We all make mistakes.  Everyone once in while we may put salt instead of sugar in the coffee, miss a deadline at work or forget to record the big game.  While some mistakes fair larger than others, we are guilty in the crime.  According to the CBS Local Connecticut, one Connecticut resident made a mistake that may just cost her a fortune…literally.

The article reported that a Hartford woman has pleaded guilty to her role in a case in which the federal government was defrauded of $1.6 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.  Prosecutors say the defendant and her husband were in on the scheme together.  The scam, which the article reported ran for roughly two and a half years, was operated through a chain of small, privately owned grocery stores.  (They must be organic stores to be making that much money!)  Authorities say that while the couple claimed to own all six stores, they had listed alternative owners on paper.  (Oh, ok. So THAT is how you get around the system.)  So, how was the fraud perpetrated?  The old fashioned way:  by exchanging cash for SNAP benefits.

Maybe the owners thought they’d be in the clear to make a profit.  Luckily for taxpayers, the scam was uncovered and led straight to the courtroom.  The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced in November.  So, what is the price to pay for a scam that lasts over two years and brings in $1.6 million? According to the article, the maximum sentence could include 20 years in prison, restitution and a fine of $3.3 million. (A number that almost triples the amount stolen!)

With penalties this large, it’s a wonder that anyone would be willing to take on that risk for some extra cash.  Perhaps the defendant thought $1.6 in illegal revenue was a lot.  I wonder what her reaction will be if the judge metes out a sentence including restitution and jail time.  This is one $3 million mistake I’ll be sure to avoid.

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