Seattle Woman Gets 34 Months in Federal Prison for Food Stamp Fraud

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A Seattle woman, who ran a Food Stamp fraud scheme from the sidewalk of Seattle’s International District, was sentenced to34 months in prison and ordered to pay $200,000 when a jury found her guilty of three counts of wire fraud and nine counts of Food Stamp fraud. Upon release from prison, she will spend three years on supervised release. (She only made $200,000…not a particularly lucrative scam, though she’ll receive lots of perks while in the Big House.)

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the woman essentially ran a business on the streets of Seattle, trafficking Food Stamps for cash. ”The modus operandi of her business was to hang outside grocery stores in the International District. She would take the electronic benefit cards from Food Stamp recipients, have the store run them for cash and give half the amount to the recipients.” (Half the amount? Sounds like the same thing I do when I scoop ice cream for my kids. I call it the Dad tax…seems fair.? Prosecutors noted that she even ”directed the undercover officers and the store cashiers on how to break the transactions up into smaller quantities to help avoid detection.

Evidently, the woman was a pretty experienced fraudster. The article reported that she had been observed trading Food Stamps for cash ”during eight undercover operations in 2007, three in 2008, 12 in 2009 and on in 2010.’? (So…they let this go on for four years? What is wrong with them?)

The article also notes ”there have been increasing cries to end or severely restrict the [Food Stamp] program, as many people have begun to associate the program with widespread fraud.’? (They make it sound like this is a recent realization. There are many past examples of fraud and lack of accountability associated with the program …we must fix it!)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Woman sentenced over trading cash for food stamps,” by Scott Sund, published by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Nov. 2, 2011.

Anh Thi Nguyen earned a living on the sidewalks of Seattle’s International District, trading cash for food stamps.

And imposing a tax of half of the proceeds.

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