Humans count. It’s our basic nature to categorize through number. For instance, we may count to rate things: “How good is this idea on a scale of 1 to 10?” If we are not rating, perhaps we are counting to keep track of things: “How many repetitions did you do during your weight lifting?” And, for those individuals inclined to commit fraud, the counting varies: years that will be spent in jail, total restitution to be paid and even the amount of times regret will race through the mind once he/she is caught.
According to an article by 89 WLS, one Chicago native racked up a number of fraud charges and convictions, leading her to serve an 11-year term in prison. (Let’s play count the fraud.) Records show the lady fraudster used stolen identities (1) and fake documents (2) to defraud tax authorities (3), the federal food stamp program (4) and a state childcare benefit program (5). While her scheme targeted a broad range of federal programs, her methods were more concentrated. From 2006 to 2007, she obtained fake identification documents utilizing information from people who were deceased, then proceeded to use these IDs to file income tax returns, claiming $500,770. She received $60,750 of those claims, and utilized a collection of post office boxes and bank accounts to collect the monies.
The scheme didn’t stop at tax refunds, rather, it continued into the realm of childcare benefits, where she used the identities to claim $146,433. (If I had a $100 for each fraud she committed, I’d enjoy quite the shopping spree.) Records show that 13 identities were used to collect the money in this particular scheme. And, as if two federal schemes weren’t enough, the fraudster made an attempt for a triple threat. She targeted the food stamp program within Illinois to collect over $3,000; in addition, she filed a variety of false state tax returns in other states to collect over $21,000. To cover her tracks, the fraudster paid individuals to lie about her activity, in attempts to throw off investigators. (Does this surprise us? No.) While she will spend the next 11 years in jail repaying her numerous fraudulent schemes, maybe she will keep a tally of the restitution to be paid in the amount of $123,670 to the State of Illinois, and $60,750 to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Whether we find ourselves counting sheep at night to sleep or counting down the final seconds of the weekly football game, we can find ease in knowing our sticky fingers won’t lead us to count down the days we’ll spend in prison…for 11 years. Let’s consider this game of counting fraud over: U.S. government – 1, Chicago Fraudster – 0.