Sometimes even fraudsters need to be careful who they trust. For example, imagine that you’re a fraudster and you think you’re about to get away with stealing hundreds of identities and thousands of the government’s (taxpayers’) dollars. Then you find out that your accomplice turns out to be a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informant. (Gotcha!) That’s exactly what happened in today’s Fraud of the Day from The Miami Herald, in which a 29-year old Florida woman lost a battle of greed vs. surveillance as she executed a tax refund scheme.
The article reported that the defendant used an electronic number provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to file false tax returns in the names of 14 people, and sought over $53,000 in phony refunds. Several of the identities she stole were those of U.S. Marines currently serving in Afghanistan.
To perpetrate her scheme, the defendant obtained a list of more than 200 names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, along with over 100 photocopies of drivers’ licenses and Social Security cards. Then, she sought an accomplice for the job to help her prepare the tax refunds. (All good fraudsters need a side-kick) All she expected from the accomplice was 20 percent of the money earned by filing the fake returns on tax software. Fortunately for the taxpayers, the accomplice turned out to be a confidential informant from the FBI, who caught her red-handed when she shared the stolen information.
The defendant pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft for her plans to steal thousands. Now she faces the possibility of up to 22 years of prison when her sentencing hearing rolls around in July. Thankfully, in this case the government was able to catch this fraudster before she stole the money due to the dedication of close surveillance and steady watch.