Sometimes there is nothing quite as enjoyable as family time. Bringing together the gang to bond and celebrate the pure joy of committing fraud together. Wait, what? While some families prefer to play sports or go to church together, others take to fraud. According to a Valley Star article, one family took to using a popular ancestry website to commit a string of tax refund frauds.
Have you ever looked back at your family tree? It is always interesting to see your family history. Even more interesting is how easy it was for one family to access the family trees of many individuals and use them to defraud the U.S. government. (So, how do we remove our family tree from the World Wide Web, just to be safe?) Testimony indicated that a mother and her two daughters used a popular ancestry website to gather personal identification information, including Social Security Numbers (SSNs), of people who were recently deceased.
The mother and daughters pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the federal government by preparing false tax returns using SSNs and personal identification information about individuals who had recently died. The family would cash the refund checks they had directed to them. (My parents taught me how to ride a bike and throw a football, not defraud the government.) So, how ambitious were these family members? According to court records, the family submitted 340 false returns and claimed $763,124. The judge sentenced the mother to 7.5 months in prison. According to the article, her poor health was a key factor in determining her sentence. In addition, the judge sentenced one daughter to 18 months in prison, and the other to 24 months in prison. Her two sons, who the article notes also played a role in the scam, are due to be sentenced in August. (Great family values at work here.)
Can you imagine what people will be talking about at their family reunion? Maybe they will all serve time at the same jail, and can still sit down for family dinners.