A Big Machine

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Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) schemes are commonly operated by large criminal enterprises involving many individuals completing different tasks at multiple levels. A Massachusetts woman was recently caught for carrying out a $1.3 million SIRF scheme involving the cashing of fraudulent tax refund checks.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates that the government lost $5.8 billion to SIRF schemes in 2013. SIRF involves individuals stealing personal identifying information such as Social Security numbers and employment information. Some fraudsters prepare and file the false tax returns and others facilitate obtaining the funds such as the woman in today’s tax fraud case.

It’s kind of hard to swindle $1.3 million on your own so the woman from today’s case used her brother-in-law to carry out the ruse. The tax returns used the names and personal identifying information of actual people living in Puerto Rico, but, the addresses were falsely listed as Massachusetts and New York. The returns also listed bogus employment information.

Over one-and-a-half years, the two cashed 236 fraudulent tax return checks totaling about $500,000 through their own checking accounts. (I’m guessing that might have raised suspicions at their respective banks.) Altogether, $1,377,376 in fraudulent tax returns were cashed through the scheme.

The 52-year-old woman and her 54-year-old brother-in-law both pleaded guilty to theft of government money and property. The woman must pay $1.377 million in restitution and serve one year in prison. Her brother-in-law will be confined to his home for three months and must pay $517,714 in restitution.

This case demonstrates the government’s methodical approach to tracking down and prosecuting SIRF fraud cases. Congratulations to the IRS and the U.S. Treasury for shutting down this big SIRF machine.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”Springfield woman to pay $1.4M for tax refund check fraud,” posted on WWLP.com on October 13, 2016.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Evelyn Manzueta of Springfield was ordered to pay $1.377-million in restitution and serve one year in federal prison for orchestrating the cashing of fraudulent tax refund checks.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 52-year-old Manzueta cashed nearly $500,000 through her own accounts and enlisted friends and family members, including her brother in-law 54-year-old Robert Evans of Wallkill, New York.

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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.