A decade is a long time. Whether you’re thinking back over key milestones (e.g., your kid starting high school, graduating, going on to college, starting his/her first job, etc.) or counting down the days until a decade of jail time is over, you’ll likely realize 10 years is a lengthy chunk of time. Today’s Fraud of the Day from the Columbus Dispatch tells the story of how one Caribbean national, who committed tax refund fraud, will spend almost the next 10 years of his life away from the beach and behind bars in a U.S. prison.
The article reports that the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, resulting from a case in which he claimed more than $120 million in tax refunds. (Go big or go home.) He admitted to filing 645 false federal tax returns between 2007 and 2011, using identities of individuals who were deceased to receive more than $19 million from the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (Ok, I take that back. Go big and go to jail.) But how did one guy manage to make nearly $20 million in a matter of four years?
An Opposing Views article gives us a deeper look into the scheme. Investigators found that the fraudster obtained the personal identification information of deceased individuals and then forged the deceased individual’s signature on the tax return, or listed himself as the deceased’s representative. He then directed the government to administer checks to addresses and/or bank accounts he controlled.
The defendant will serve 114 months (that’s 9 ½ years) in prison and was ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution. Although he was caught, and had to kiss his money goodbye, there is a “positive” for the fraudster behind bars – he has almost 10 years to figure out how to make that money back. A decade is a good long time for personal reflection and business plan writing. Perhaps he can create a credible representation agency upon his release?