Knowing our ancestry can help us to learn more about ourselves.  For instance, maybe there’s a combination between your love for hiking and the fact that your great uncle grew up in the Swiss Alps. Perhaps your mother’s great uncle’s great grandmother has a tie to the British monarchy.  Your family tree is your legacy, and it will be with you for the rest of your life – whether you want it to be or not, just like a crime that five family members committed resulting in $763,124 worth of tax refund fraud, as reported in The Brownsville Herald. (The family that commits a crime together usually gets busted together.)

The story states that a mother, who was the ringleader of the tax refund fraud scheme, not only recruited her two sons to join in on the crime, but also her sister and mother. (That lady had quite an influence over her relatives.) Court documents show that she led her family’s crime ring to use a genealogical research website to search out names and Social Security numbers for recently deceased people and then filed fraudulent tax returns using their identities. (This is a classic tactic used by fraudsters.) The refunds from approximately 340 false claims were then deposited in the personal bank accounts of the accused family members.

One of the sons, the fourth family member to be sentenced for this crime, is required to pay restitution of $200,000, along with his other guilty relatives.  The judge credited him with the 207 days in jail he had already served and will require him to also perform 50 hours of community service.  His mom got four years plus seven and a half months in prison, while his grandmother got 20 months due to her health and age.  His aunt was sentenced to two years in jail and his brother remains to be sentenced.  In the future, the family will not be allowed to file tax returns or assist in filing tax returns for anyone but themselves. (That’s a good idea.)

This family’s lineage would be interesting to trace back to its origin.  Maybe they had a distant or not so distant relative that links back to an unscrupulous character in the Wild West.  Who knows?  Although, one thing is for certain, bad apples don’t fall far from the tree.

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