Buyer’s Regret

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Have you ever had buyer’s regret? Perhaps you bought into a scam on the infomercial – the one that sold you a gadget that promised to do what no other gadget could. When you opened the box, after making three payments of some unnecessary amount, you realize: (a) you could have made the gadget yourself, (b) you will never use the gadget and (c) you immediately feel like slightly less intelligent for getting scammed. This type of regret also happens in fraud. Fortunately, sometimes it’s the fraudster experiencing regret as the judge lays out a sentence. According to a SunSentinel.com article, a pair of fraudsters is feeling pretty regretful after officials discovered their illegal trades.

A Florida hospital worker is experiencing a bit of ”seller’s regret,” after officials discovered her participation in one of the state’s most successful fraud rings. The woman pleaded guilty in court to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to possess unauthorized devices – in this case Social Security numbers (SSN). Federal prosecutors promised the fraudster they would recommend a lighter punishment for her cooperation to testify against the ringleader of the large fraud scam. The woman’s attorney commented that her criminal actions were ”so out of character, she’s a really nice person.” So how did this really nice person become wanted for identity theft?

The fraudster worked as respiration therapist, with access to SSNs and other patient personal identification information. Between June 2011 and February 2012, the fraudster prepared a ”handwritten list” of patients’ SSN, birth dates and names. (What is this notebook you say? Oh it’s a diary. It’s definitely not a list of nearly 800 patients’ personal identification information. That would be illegal.) An investigation found the woman sold her lists to the leader of a massive tax refund fraud ring in Southern Florida for thousands of dollars. The fraud ring was responsible for filing for $11.7 million in refunds, receiving $4.5 million. The leader of the ring is serving a 26-year prison term, while her partner in crime (our defendant) is awaiting sentencing.

Let’s recap? Fraudster A stole patient’s SSNs (regret) and sold them to Fraudster B (regret), who took those identities and submitted false tax returns (regret), while both managing to get caught by authorities (regret), and are facing/serving jail time after testing against one another (regret). Moral of the story: yard sales usually bring about less regret than fraud.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Former Hospital Worker Admits Selling Patient IDs to Broward Fraud Ring,” written by Paula McMahon and published by the SunSentinel.com on July 15, 2013.

A South Florida hospital worker who stole more than 800 patients’ Social Security numbers and sold them to a multimillion-dollar tax fraud ring, pleaded guilty to her role in the conspiracy Monday.

Betty Cole, 34, of Miami, faces a maximum of seven years in federal prison when she is sentenced later this year.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.