Remember those economics lessons from college? The countless chapters read, differentiating between imported and exported goods and learning the methods and laws of importing/exporting? Turns out…it doesn’t take an economic genius to make a little money using a foreign destination. No – all you need are a fraudster, stolen funds and a foreign country to receive the cash on the other end. Today’s Fraud of the Day from The Charlotte Observer article describes how one pair managed to export over a million dollars in a tax refund fraud scheme.
Tax refund fraud has become like a quick-spreading virus. It’s so easy to file a return online that the system is being abused. Take, for example, a dynamic duo from North Carolina who was responsible for filing around 800 false tax refund claims. (It’s always easy to get more done with an extra person around to fraud…I mean, “help.”) Authorities found that the two received over $1 million in stolen funds. What happened to it? They wired it to Mexico. (There’s your export. What, they didn’t even keep it in our country to fuel the economy?) The government successfully argued that the two had a method for stealing exporting method the cash: they obtained tax ID numbers from people using both Mexican birth certificates and other identifying documents and then used those to file the tax refund claims. Once the money was obtained from the tax returns, it was then transferred to Mexico.
Investigators found that they rented apartments with centralized mailboxes. The authorities believe they used these addresses to collect the refunds. (As Dr. Bucholz has told us, fraudsters need to control the addresses to receive the checks.) Court documents said that the defendants claimed $3.8 million, receiving $1.6 million, $136,334 of which the government has retrieved. (They had a 42% hit rate, not bad.)
The maximum penalty for the crime is 10 years; however, sentencing dates have not yet been set.
While the Internal Revenue Service and various other law enforcement and government agencies are attempting to put an end to such fraud, the fact of the matter is that the ease of this particular fraud is what makes it so appealing and abundant. While the two accused fraudsters sit and wait for sentencing, the Mexican government would like to thank them for their considerate donations.