It seems that zombies have become all the rage in media, infiltrating video games and popular TV shows. And, now the tax refund fraud racket? While the walking dead seem just short of a living nightmare, a Colorado duo may have thought they had found the perfect match for a new business venture, according to a Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) news release.
While some networks have found making zombies into a closely followed TV series a huge success, two defendants may have found it a tough angle to work around when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came knocking at their door. According to the OIG, one of the defendants pleaded guilty to using the personal identification information of the deceased to file false tax return forms online. (When you deal with zombies, morals are thrown out the door.)The defendant admitted to working with an alleged co-conspirator to file claims in the amount of $1,834,011 through a Colorado entity that they established, controlled and operated. (They could have called their business: “Tax Returns for Dead Guys.”)The OIG said that the duo rented office space and hired individuals to work for the entity, filing fraudulent tax returns from July 2009-October 2009.(This was a short gig for such a big risk.)
An investigation found that the strategy behind the tax scheme involved obtaining names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers (SSN), and other identifying information of deceased individuals from an online database. (I wonder which genealogical site they used? Zombies-r-us.com?)Officials say the two even went as far as to allocate a specific job for a hired “employee” to create emails for the deceased individuals, a necessary piece of information needed when filing tax returns online. They also took the scam a step further by digging even deeper to obtain employer identification numbers (EINs) for various businesses. Officials say they then used these businesses to falsely claim that the deceased individuals had previously been employed during 2008. (What is the EIN for the local funeral home?)
The defendant faces up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 at his April sentencing.
Ok, so it seems that zombies transfer well into movies and video games, but not so well into fraud. What’s next fraudsters? I hear vampires are still the rave in popular culture!