Do you ever take for granted the convenience of an ATM? With one quick swipe of a card and by punching four digits, you have your bank at your disposal. A Pennsylvania fraudster picked up on this convenience and set up her own food stamp ATM system, according to a CBS Philly article.
The article reported that a Pennsylvania woman told investigators that she fled from her home country nearly two decades ago to seek refuge in America after a civil war made living conditions undesirable. She operated a food market in Delaware County, where authorities discovered that she participated in a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (a.k.a. food stamps) fraud scheme. The judge closed the case on the fraudster’s cash/food stamp exchange, sentencing her to 21 months in prison, for a scam that cost the government well over $200,000. (That’s all she gets? What about restitution?)
During the hearing, the judge referred to the fraudster’s store as an “ATM for food stamps,” meaning individuals could utilize the store as a metaphorical ATM, where they would provide the operator with food stamps, and receive cash in return. (That seems pretty easy – no wonder she defrauded the government of over $200,000.) Investigators explained that an individual with food stamps would enter the store, and provide, for example, $100 in food stamps to the fraudster. She would take the food stamps, and provide $60 or $70 in cash to the individual, making a $30-$40 profit. (She actually charged pretty low – some fraudsters demand half!) In court, leading up to her sentencing, she accepted responsibility for the scheme, telling the court that she had “lost her way” and was pleading for mercy.
Regardless of her past situation, there is no excuse for this woman to participate in defrauding government aid programs, such as SNAP. Her explanation of “losing her way,” led her on a straight path to jail where she will have 21 months to find herself.