Miami, Florida – the city of beautiful people, beaches, night-life and the occasional tax fraud scheme. While most individuals visiting or living in Miami spend their time enjoying the city’s vibrant culture, two Florida natives allegedly found themselves skipping out on authentic Cuban food and cocktails and instead focused on a tax refund scheme.
Today’s fraud, based on an article from The Miami Herald, focuses on two men charged with tax refund fraud and the scheme they are accused of carrying out. In this case, a 28-year old Florida native allegedly paid an 18-year-old volunteer at the Social Security Administration to provide documents that contained names, dates of birth and Social Security Numbers. (Looks like you get what you pay for.) Prosecutors say the 28-year old used the information to submit phony tax returns via the Internet and a commercial tax refund solution. He then allegedly directed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to deposit all of the refunds onto debit cards and send them to the 18-year olds home and other addresses. (Wow! Just like Mr. Bucholz told us, the address or the account can get them…) The IRS tracked the fraudulent returns to the addresses, resulting in the discovery of the alleged tax fraud scheme.
The article illustrates a good point and one we should be thinking about at tax time: it is easy for people to commit fraud using the Internet and a commercial tax refund solution. In this case, the authorities caught the alleged fraudsters. It is likely that there are people out there who will use this simple approach to try and game the system this tax season; some will be caught and some won’t. And that raises the question of the day: Which is easier – committing tax refund fraud or finding the fraudster?