Large, But Not In Charge

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34542226 - hand with credit card swipe through terminal for sale in supermarket

There are times when being recognized for a large accomplishment is good, such as collecting the most amount of money for charity. On the other hand, being recognized for something on a big scale also can be a bad thing. An article posted on KPHO.com happens to tell about the largest food stamp fraud bust in Arizona history.

The story states that a husband and wife who owned a small market in Arizona were accused of operating a multimillion-dollar fraudulent food stamp scheme. The owners used customer Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) cards to obtain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits then split the proceeds in cash with the cardholders.

Over a period of about three-and-a-half years, more than $2.3 million in illegal transactions occurred at the store. Further research shows that the market processed 553 food stamp transactions worth $69,000 in just one month. The problem with this figure is that the small store only had one small cooler that contained food items. The rest of the store stocked wigs, purses, DVDs and non-food items. (I’m guessing the customers were not purchasing SNAP-approved food items.)

Arizona’s Department of Economic Security became suspicious with the revenue figures and launched an undercover operation that included surveillance and eventually undercover agents who made fake food stamp purchases. (The owners were caught red-handed.)

The 44-year-old husband was sentenced to four years in prison followed by three years of supervised probation. The 33-year-old wife will serve two years of supervised probation for her part in the crime. The couple also was ordered to pay back the stolen funds to the SNAP program.

These two fraudsters probably thought they were large and in charge when they launched the scheme to bilk the government of millions in benefits that they did not deserve. (Instead, they ran head on into the government who put a stop to this large-scale crime, most likely making them feel very small.) Instead of being remembered for pulling off the biggest food stamp heist in Arizona history, this man and wife are now known as the biggest losers in Arizona’s SNAP program history.

 

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Glendale Couple Sentenced for $2 Million Food Stamp Fraud,” written by Steve Stout and posted on KPHO.com on April 17, 2015.

PHOENIX (KPHO/KTVK) – A Glendale husband and wife have been sentenced in a $2 million food-stamp fraud case, according to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

Bernard Le-Uh, 44, and Monica Le-Uh, 33, who own Nicben African Caribbean Market Plus at 6220 N. 43rd Ave., in Glendale, were sentenced April 10.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.