The Fraud Bandwagon

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It seems that food stamp fraud is a popular way to steal money from the government these days. (That being said, fraud is usually considered popular to criminals only until they are caught and prosecuted.) An article posted on details the methods of quite a few Louisianans who jumped on the fraud bandwagon, only to find themselves convicted for participating in a variety of schemes, which resulted in the loss of more than $116,000 to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The story states that 15 Louisiana residents were ineligible for the SNAP benefits they received. (Go figure.) Their methods of deception included failing to report a spouse, claiming children as household members when they did not live with the applicant, concealing income, hiding employment, providing false employment and wage verification information, under-reporting income and altering check stubs…just to name a few. (Who knew there were so many ways to steal money from the program?)

All 15 residents were found guilty and ordered to pay full restitution to the SNAP program. Other punishment varied per case, but usually included a suspended jail sentence, probation, community service, court costs and fines. One fraudster did receive a sentence of 30 days in jail.

The bandwagon effect is essentially a trend that becomes popular among a group of people. There is no way to know if any of these fraudsters knew each other, but chances are they heard about how to commit food stamp fraud from someone else who had been successful at the deceptive practice. The only ways to stop this fad from spreading are to punish appropriately for the offense and prevent future participation in the government program that is reserved for underprivileged people who rightfully deserve the benefits. (Word-of-mouth usually gets around.)

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”15 Louisianans Sentenced in SNAP Benefits Fraud Case,” written by Quincy Hodges and published on on June 9, 2014.

Fifteen residents from around the state were convicted of receiving more than $116,000 in ineligible benefits, an investigation by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) Fraud and Recovery Unit found.

Chaka Bradford of Minden, La. obtained more than $20,000 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and $2,463 in Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) benefits after providing false information about her household makeup. Bradford is ordered to make full restitution to DCFS in the amount of $22,739. She was sentenced in the 26th Judicial Court.

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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.