Food Stamp ATM

13488926 - a shot of market cart and supermarket view

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.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Darby Woman Sentenced to 21 Months in Prison for Food Stamp Fraud,” written by Tony Hanson and published by the CBS Philly on November 30, 2012.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Darby, Delaware county woman, who says she fled her native Liberia two decades ago to escape civil war there, has now been sentenced to 21 months in prison here for food stamp fraud. The fraud cost the government, at the very least, well over $200,000.

Federal prosecutor Floyd Miller says 59-year-old Florence Kingsley, who operated Aunty Florence’s West African Food Market in Darby, gave cash to welfare recipients in exchange for their food stamp benefits.

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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.