Vowing to Fraud

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10417921 - electronic funds transfer

Upon getting married, couples have the option to write their own vows, or recite prewritten vows before the official ”I do.’? I’ve been to many weddings, and perhaps it’s protocol to leave the next statement out, but never have I heard? ”I vow to commit Food Stamp fraud with you, in the face of criminal charges and jail time.’? I’m guessing it takes the romantic success out of bilking the government as a couple. According to a KWTX article, one Texas couple had an understanding to defraud until they were caught.

A Waco, Texas business man pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with a food stamp scam he was running out of his store. One week later, the man’s wife pleaded guilty to the same crime. Investigators revealed the man and wife owned and operated a food mart that participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) a.k.a food stamps. The program, operated by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), allows participating stores to accept electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards that are used as currency to purchase food. The USDA later reimburses the store with money in return for the SNAP benefits. (This is a system that is intended to provide assistance to people who are in need of food; criminals have found a way to cash in on those benefits by providing the recipients cash for their benefits.)

The couple explained the process of their fraud, a process similar to most food stamp fraud scams nationwide. (If we experience this problem nationwide, why can’t we implement a system or rule that stops the issue in its tracks? For example, putting picture IDs and names of beneficiaries on the cards for verification.) Both the husband and wife would accept SNAP EBT cards, similar to debit cards, and charge for a specific amount; let’s say $200. They then would pocket 50 percent of the $200 and return $100 cash to the benefits recipient. After submitting their reports to the USDA, the USDA would reimburse the store for all benefits received for ”food.” Investigators believe the couple defrauded the U.S. government out of a total of $350,000. Officials commented that this was the second case of food stamp/SNAP fraud in the Waco, Texas area in recent months.

This couple displays quite the commitment to being criminals amongst their marriage. Perhaps it’s like a Bonnie and Clyde type of thing? ”We fraud together, we go to jail together.”

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Waco: Local Businesswoman Pleads Guilty in Food Stamp Fraud Case”, written by Paul J. Gately, published by KWTX, June 20, 2013.

WACO (June 20, 2013)–Just a week after her husband pleaded guilty to a similar charge, a Waco businesswoman pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to charges in a food stamp abuse case.

U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith set Magdalena Akhter for sentencing on August 14 after she pleaded guilty to an information charging false, fictitious or fraudulent claims.

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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.