Like most people, I make stops at the local convenience store every once in a while – to pick up a snack or some item that I need, so I can avoid a trip to the grocery store. I don’t think too much about it, and I’m definitely not thinking about how I can defraud a government program on my visit. So…you guessed it: today’s Fraud of the Day from Wicked Local Waltham focuses on a case about a defendant who allegedly used his position at a convenience store to rip off government benefits.
The article reports that a Massachusetts convenience store manager was recently indicted on a series of fraud charges in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – the federal government program also known as food stamps. Investigators say that the defendant or another convenience store clerk acting at his direction “would provide cash after customers would swipe their EBT card.” The defendant and the other clerks “would enter fraudulent information on a dedicated EBT terminal indicating that a customer purchased groceries” when no groceries were purchased. It is illegal to trade food stamp benefits for cash. (If true, that’s a big problem.)
The article noted that the defendant is one of 21 individuals who have been charged in connection with illegally selling their benefits at locations across the state. In each case, “the Attorney General’s office alleges these suspects knowingly accepted cash in lieu of groceries, defrauding the food stamp system.” (Way to go! Sounds like the state is cracking down on SNAP fraudsters.)
It is important to note that the defendant in today’s Fraud of the Day is merely accused of fraud. Like every other defendant, he is innocent until proven guilty. Even so, the case raises a plausible scenario for committing SNAP fraud. And, that’s what we try to do here at Fraud of the Day: educate government officials about how people might try to defraud government programs, so we can put an end to defrauding these programs.
So, here’s the question for the day: next time you’re in line at a convenience store, are you going to wonder whether your store clerk or the customer in front of you is really out to game the system?