Oh, SNAP!

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Full paper bag of different health food on rustic wooden background. Top view. Flat lay

Some people just don’t know when to quit. A Newark, N.J., store owner had already been banned from participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program when he put his grocery store in another person’s name to get back into swindling the federal program. To stay ahead of the law, the man obtained a foreign passport and fled the country. (That’s never good for your case!)

The store owner soon had law enforcement from four federal agencies on his tail—and the law caught up to him. The 60-year-old man was captured and on Nov. 14 was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for bilking the government out of more than $750,000 in the food voucher scam. A federal judge also sentenced him to three years of supervised probation and ordered him to repay the money. (Let’s hope he didn’t spend it all when he was on the lam.)

During his guilty plea, the man told a federal judge in Newark that he exchanged SNAP benefits for cash and kept a portion of the proceeds for himself. He also admitted to fleeing the country to avoid prosecution.

Recipients of SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, similar to a debit card, to make purchases. Every retailer authorized to accept SNAP benefits has an EBT terminal where beneficiaries swipe to pay and then enter a PIN number. The terminal verifies the PIN, determines whether the customer’s balance covers the proposed transaction, and informs the retailer whether the transaction should be authorized or denied. The benefits are not to be used for cash (despite what the store owner may have told his customers).

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article in the Englewood (N.J.) Daily Voice, “Store Owner from Teaneck gets 3 Years in Fed Pen for Pocketing in $750,000 Food Vouchers,” Nov. 14, 2019.

A Newark store owner from Teaneck who was captured after fleeing the country was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in federal prison for scamming the government out of more than $750,000 in a food voucher scam.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian R. Martinotti also sentenced Jamil Bader, 60, to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $754,424.

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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.