Waiting by the Mailbox

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21610268 - woman taking some letters from mailbox

The old school method for receiving tax refunds used to involve waiting patiently for the mailman to drop it off in the mailbox. Today, the most efficient and safe way to receive a tax refund is via a direct deposit into your bank account. (This delivery method cuts out the possibility of having your coveted refund stolen right out from under you.) A man from South Florida stole a U.S. Treasury refund check from an unsuspecting victim and almost got away with more than $133,008 in tax refund fraud.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reports that today’s fraudster worked with a co-conspirator to steal and conceal the possession of the tax refund check. He then opened three bank accounts under the name listed on the check, which happened to be the administrator of a trust.

The Floridian presented corporate documents filed with the State of Florida, erroneously listing him as the registered officer of the trust. Just three days after opening the multiple accounts, he deposited the stolen U.S. Treasury check in the amount of $133,008 into one of the accounts. (It wasn’t long before he and his co-conspirator began writing and cashing checks from the bank account made payable to themselves.)

 Simultaneously, the real administrator of the trust was patiently waiting for the anticipated $133,008 tax refund check to arrive. When interviewed, the administrator stated that they had not authorized anyone else to open a bank account in the name of the trust or to endorse or deposit the check into a bank account. (Did the fraudster think that the person eagerly anticipating the arrival of the six-figure check would not go looking for it?)

The man from Florida pleaded guilty to tax refund fraud. When sentenced, he could face a maximum of 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. It’s also possible the court could impose a special assessment fee and restitution in the full amount of the money stolen. (Easy come, easy go.)

Just a word to the wise: the best and fastest way to receive a tax fund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is to have it electronically deposited into your bank account. (You can even split the deposits among several accounts if needed.) The IRS reports that nine out of 10 refunds are processed within 21 days, and you can even track it through a tool called “Where’s My Refund.” (That sure beats standing by the mailbox and giving fraudsters an opportunity to go on a shopping spree with your money.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “South Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Theft of Federal Tax Refunds,” published by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on February 27, 2018.

On December 13, 2017, in the Southern District of Florida, Carl Andre Guillaume pleaded guilty to theft of Federal tax refunds. [1] Guillaume had been indicted for the offense on October 10, 2017, [2] after agents of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration had arrested him on September 27, 2017.

According to the indictment, from about June 17, 2017 through September 27, 2017, Guillaume knowingly and willfully conspired with another to receive, conceal, and retain a U.S. Department of the Treasury tax refund check, with the purpose of unjustly enriching himself. They did so knowing the check to have been stolen.

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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.