Doubling Down on Fraud

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Some people try to catch lightning in a bottle, but this fraudster tried to do so twice. AL.com tells the story of a woman who was recently sentenced for food stamp fraud and income tax evasion. The catch is that she was already in jail and serving a one year and one day sentence for attempting to defraud the Gulf Coast oil spill claims fund. (This fraudster apparently saw an opportunity for profit where others saw relief for their essential needs.) On top of the sentence she was already serving, the story states that this fraudster will serve an additional two years for her attempts to defraud food stamp benefits programs and for lying about her income on tax returns.

The story explains that this fraudster kept her criminal activities within her family. She only began serving her sentence after her husband was released for his part in their attempts to defraud the Gulf Coast oil spill relief fund. The U.S. District Court judge in these cases decided to stagger their sentences because the couple are parents to two young children, who were 2 and 3 years old when the husband was sentenced in 2014. (Thankfully, the U.S. Justice system has a capacity to assess need despite instances where fraudsters like these people wantonly disregard it.)

The story reports that when the woman filed for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from 2009 through 2012, reporting no cash on hand, money in the bank, or taxable income. Likewise, from 2008 through 2010, this fraudster reported no taxable income on her income tax filings, when in fact the fraudster was earning $229,147 in taxable income. (Ironically, this fraudster operated a tax preparation business which processes more than 2,000 tax returns and $2.5 million in tax receipts. However, the fraudster couldn’t use her knowledge of the tax system to successfully get away with defrauding it.)

In addition to her jail sentence, the story reports that this fraudster was ordered by the judge to immediately forfeit $23,757 to the government from the proceeds of her fraudulent activity, and to furthermore repay $134,448 plus interest in restitution to the State of Alabama and the federal government.

This story ended like so many do, with fraudsters who blatantly lie to the federal government about their income and their stated need for benefits ending up in prison and paying the government back, with interest.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”McCalla woman sentenced in food stamp fraud, tax evasion,” written by Kent Faulk and published by AL.com on September 21, 2015.

A McCalla woman, already serving a year-and-a-day sentence for trying to defraud the Gulf Coast oil spill claims fund, will have to spend more time in federal prison after being sentenced Monday for food stamp fraud and evading income taxes charges.

Sherica Lacey Lee, 33, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler to two years in prison for her guilty plea to one count each of tax evasion and wire fraud.

The sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, Investigations, Special Agent in Charge Karen Citizen-Wilcox.

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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.