Food Stamp Fraud: Two Texans Convicted Of Stealing Tons Of Cheese, Beans & More
Food stamps are "designed" to help folks who are having a hard time get through those tough times without worrying about where they will get their next meal. There's an old saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" and this is very true when it comes to food stamps because some folks will and have found a way to take something that is designed to be "temporary help" and turn it into something that they can make money off. Let the following story serve as a reminder that yes, you could get in big trouble for using the "Lone Star Card" for nefarious purposes.
We take you to Brownsville, Texas Where Investigators Uncovered An Interesting Scheme.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, beginning in February 2016, an investigation revealed 51 year old Ana Rioja and 55 year old Maria Consuelo de Ureno along with other co-conspirators exchanged SNAP benefits for cash by using a point of sale device at a local meat market Rioja owned.
Additionally, authorities discovered Ureno and co-conspirators conducted fraudulent transactions at Sam’s Wholesale Club.
The investigation discovered 715 fraudulent transactions that were linked to 83 unique SNAP benefit recipients which conspirators redeemed for cash or food. Between September 2014 and August 2019, both Rioja and Ureno conducted approximately $1.2 million in fraudulent transactions.
The Amount Of Food They Purchased Was Staggering.
According to officials, Ureno would use the benefits to buy literally TONS of food. Over the span of the investigation, it was revealed that Ureno purchased the following:
49.1 tons of American cheese slices
22.3 tons of pinto beans
1.6 tons of Folgers coffee
1.4 tons of instant mashed potatoes
Over 5,000 gallons of mayonnaise
After purchasing, she would sell to a partner who transport all the food items to Mexico. They were basically running a "restaurant supply" business from the U.S. side.
The Two Women Will Now Be Headed To Prison
Both plead guilty last year to conspiring to commit and committing SNAP fraud. Rioja received a 30-month term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by one year of supervised release. Ureno received 37 months followed by a three-year-term of supervised release and she could also face loss of her legal status in the United States and removal proceedings following her release from prison. Both will also have to pay money back in restitution, Rioja over $900K, while Ureno has to pay back over a million bucks.