There are numerous 12-step programs that exist to help people recover from all sorts of addictions, afflictions and overall bad experiences. (However, to my knowledge, there’s no Fraudsters Anonymous to help recovering criminals choose a better line of work.) Montgomery’s NBC-affiliate, WSFA, reports that a Wetumpka couple committed fraud through a massive ID theft scheme to support a gambling habit. (That would qualify the duo for two 12-step programs – Gamblers Anonymous and the yet to be created Fraudsters Anonymous.)
The story reports that over a two-and-a-half year period, a man and his wife, plus a few accomplices, obtained stolen identities and filed false tax returns – generating more than $400,000 in fraudulent refunds. The returns were filed from the couple’s residence and the co-conspirators directed the refunds to prepaid debit cards in the names of the identity theft victims. Members of the identity theft ring then used the prepaid debit cards to withdraw the proceeds from the fraudulent refunds. Court documents state that the pair used the money to try their luck in casinos around the state of Alabama. (Winner winner, chicken dinner.)
Unfortunately, the couple’s luck ran out. According to court records, the two lost $200,000 of the fraudulent funds through gambling activities. The man and woman were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States plus aggravated identity theft. They are both facing between two and 12 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, restitution and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The scheme probably sounded like a good idea at first. (It’s not our money, so let’s live it up! They’ll never catch us.) The couple not only gambled away money that didn’t belong to them, but they also gambled away their future. One thing is for sure – the odds of eventually getting caught are good, so don’t bet on a life of crime.