A Game of Fraud

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Did you have a favorite sport when you were growing up? Or, maybe you were the star of your chess team? Whether your activity was basketball, football, chess – or some other team activity, it is widely understood that experience participating as a member of a team s a positive impact on the way an individual participates in other daily tasks. Experts go as far as to explain that individuals who have participated in team sports in the past are typically successful in the workspace based on necessary teambuilding skills learned from sports, such as working together, achieving a goal and exhibiting leadership. For a trio in Southern Florida, teamwork may be sending them to a cell block instead of a trophy block, according to a Sun Sentinel article.

When it comes to cracking a $14 million fraud case you may ask yourself? ”How do you beat a team of tax refund fraudsters?” (Well, that’s easy – instead of team ”weigh-ins,” try a team lie detector test.) The solution is building a competitive team of investigators, attorneys and law enforcement officials. Let’s draw on some popular team lessons to see exactly where this game of fraud went wrong. Lesson one? Always have a plan of action, or a ”game plan.’? For our three fraudsters, the plan was simple – use personal identification information from deceased individuals to file false tax return forms, and collect the refunds. (Great plan – I wonder where it went wrong. Apart from the fact it is more generic than a ”How to Teach 2-3 Zone” guide to basketball.)Lesson two? Your best offense is a great defense. Looking at our game plan, it’s clear to see the three South Florida residents were more persistent in their offensive game, filing for $14 million in refunds. It doesn’t seem like they were as focused on defensive tactics, like not getting caught. (What is their defense now? Let me guess: ”I’m really sorry.”)Lesson three? Play as a team – if one fails, we all fail. Our last lesson shows us a great deal, as all three of the frauds failed as team, pleading guilty to their respective fraud charges. (At least they have one skill right – lie as a team, face prison as a team.)

Their common team errors not only cuts off their ”wins” in stolen government money, but also may provide sentencing that could land each individual nearly 10-20 years behind bars. (Jail sticks with you longer than a trophy.) In an attempt to take down the criminals of Florida, a state infamous for spiking numbers of fraudulent behavior, we must give a hand to those law enforcement officials, investigators and attorneys responsible for exhibiting necessary team skills to keep our money where it belongs in the government.

Although there isn’t an actual trophy given to the ”winners” of this game of fraud, the bragging rights are easy to claim for those putting fraudsters behind bars. One of the most important lessons I learned from sports was? ”Never be a sore loser, always be a good sport.’? But then again, I never went to jail for fraud.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Three Plead Guilty in $14 Million Tax Refund Fraud,” written by Paula McMahon and published by the Sun Sentinel on February 22, 2013.

Three South Florida residents pleaded guilty to their roles in a $14 million stolen identity tax refund fraud on Friday in federal court in Miami, prosecutors said.

 

Finshley Fanor, 34, of Lauderhill, Serge St-Vil, 61, of Miami, Muller Pierre, 62, of North Miami Beach, could all face lengthy prison terms when they are sentenced in May.

 

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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.