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Food Stamp Fraud Trafficking – Extending “CREDIT” to Customers

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

The USDA or United States Department of Agriculture runs the government issued SNAP program that many call the Food Stamp Program. When started, this program issued paper checks that were called “vouchers” to the eligible participants in the program every month. The participants would then have to take these vouchers to the grocery store to purchase the allowed foods and beverages. This program is intended to help very low income individuals and families. New York City has many retailers that participate in this benefit program by providing the eligible food products that customers buy with their snap benefits.

Like any government program, this one had some fraud cases that were uncovered early on. The agency opened up a fraud investigating unit that very aggressively tracks and thoroughly investigates abuse and fraud reports and suspicions. To combat the fraud, the program initiated an electronic system that replaced the easily counterfeited vouchers with an electronically loaded debit style card that works just like ones from a bank. Now, fraud investigators can digitally trace transactions thought to be fraudulent in order to build fraud cases against the perpetrators. This could be an individual person that doesn’t report all of their monthly income in order to qualify for the benefits.

The investigators can also catch retailers that allow snap participants to get cash for their SNAP dollar benefits. To do this, savvy retailers cook their books to make it look like the participant purchased food products. Other fraud concerns retailers that do not request the proper identification. Individuals that are not eligible to get snap benefits can then use or cash in the benefits from someone else’s card. Criminals often run scams where they apply for benefits using a dead person’s identity information or some other ruse. Another abuse of benefits involves retailers allowing snap benefits to be used when buying ineligible items like cigarettes, alcohol and even drugs.

There are many confusing rules that participants including retailers must follow to be in compliance. Store owners must train their clerks on which items can be bought with snap benefits, and which cannot. A juice might be on the eligible list, but another soda drink may not be. Some are easier than others to remember. The government doesn’t want needy individuals to waste more money purchasing foods prepared by a store and sold hot. However, they might be allowed to purchase some store made cold items.

Another ruse that unscrupulous retailers can use is to extend “credit” to customers, then taking the benefits when the card is loaded the next month. This is considered illegal. While a customer could do this with their own money, they can’t with government issued benefits intended for food purchases. The agency investigators flag stores that have unusual patterns of retail sales with snap benefits. Often, investigators will partner with local law enforcement to do undercover sting operations where police or their decoys pretend to be snap participants. The agency gives the police decoy SNAP benefits that are used to catch illegal SNAP violations and fraud.

Some honest retailers could get caught up in this issue due to various reasons. Mistakes can happen, such as a clerk allowing snap benefits to be used without requiring ID. Another scenario has another clerk ringing up a banned item to be paid for with snap benefits. The store owner could be totally unaware. Some clerks do this to steal some of the cash for themselves leaving their employer vulnerable if investigators are alerted to their store. A retailer that has been notified by the government that they are suspected of snap violations needs to consult with a knowledgeable attorney straight away.

Food stamp trafficking is a real crime that carries hefty monetary fines and stiff jail sentences. Any fraud of $100 or more is considered a felony crime with long years of jail time if convicted. A competent lawyer that specializes in these cases, like NYC criminal Attorneys working at Spodek Law Group, are able to help. Call them first for a free consultation appointment to discuss the specifics of your case. Log onto https://www.nyccriminalattorneys.com to read more about Food Stamp Fraud Trafficking crime details and what can be done in your defense.

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Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
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Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
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2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Food Stamps and Relevant Business Practices

Understanding Food Stamps in New York

Sometimes, people in New York rely on the assistance of food stamps so that they can feed their families. Grocery stores and many other retailers that sell food that can be purchased with food stamps rely on the customers who have these benefits so that they can stay in business, especially in low-income areas. Most recipients and businesses see food stamps as a form of a cash payment, but the government sees the benefits as strictly for the purpose of purchasing food for the family instead of using the benefits to buy alcohol, toiletries, and tobacco.

Regulations Surrounding Food Stamp Benefits

There are regulations that states have to follow in order for people to receive food stamp benefits. The recipients of the benefits also have to follow strict regulations that include reporting any income changes, especially if the income amount increases, and reporting whether someone moves into or out of the home as these changes can impact the amount of the benefits received each month.

One of the ways that businesses can get in trouble is to treat food stamp benefits like cash, offering credit to recipients like they would if customers had a credit or debit card. This is called food stamp trafficking. It’s also classified as food stamp fraud.

Consequences of Food Stamp Trafficking

Any business that takes part in trafficking could risk losing the ability to accept food stamps from customers. If there is evidence that trafficking has taken place for a significant amount of time, then the business could be closed until the proper penalties have been satisfied. Businesses that claim that they didn’t know offering credit in exchange for food stamps shows ignorance of the laws of the state and is often not a defense that can be used if the business is suspected of fraud.

Seeking Legal Support in Cases of Trafficking or Fraud

If a business is charged with food stamp trafficking or fraud, then the best option is to seek the assistance of an attorney. Offering credit not associated with food stamp benefits usually isn’t an issue for businesses. Businesses can offer IOU options to customers who are unable to pay for all of the merchandise that they want or need. However, this is left to the discretion of the business. If a business extends credit options with a food stamp card instead of a credit or debit card or cash, then this is an illegal act. Aside from being banned from participating in the food stamp program, the owner of the business could face time in jail.

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