The concept of stealing someone’s identity has been around a long time. But in today’s Fraud of the Day from WFSA.com, the fraudsters added a new twist: stealing identities for other people?
The article reports that two sisters from Montgomery, Alabama were recently sentenced for their roles in a scheme in which they used their tax return preparation business to file phony income tax returns using stolen identities. Court documents indicated that between 2005 and 2008 these women filed tax returns for their customers using false information in order to obtain higher refunds from the government (it’s like Robin Hood, for tax fraud). They also fabricated driver’s licenses and Social Security cards to put in customer files based on the stolen identities. The women encouraged their customers to provide false information in order to increase their tax refund amounts. (No, no, lying to the government is part of the tax return process. Get it?)
The sisters were each sentenced to 115 months of prison time and have been ordered to pay $504,305 in restitution to the government. An investigator from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Office of Criminal Investigation stated: “IRS Criminal Investigation has made investigating refund fraud and identity theft a top priority and we will vigorously pursue those who undermine the integrity of the U.S. tax system.”
Hopefully the sisters’ scheme inspires other government agencies to make identity theft a top priority, as well. So, what is your agency doing to prevent and/or protect against identity fraud?