A Tall Order of Fraud

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Bartenders seem to be pretty close with locals/regulars; memorizing drink orders, personal interests, jobs, etc. What do you do when a bartender puts these people skills to use, in the wrong way? A StarTribune.com article reports how one Minneapolis bartender used her connections to start a fraud scam that has left her filled with regret and begging for forgiveness.

Facing jail time is a punishment many fear, but for one Minnesota fraudster, jail is the least of her worries. An immigrant, who came to America as an infant, she is now facing the possibility of jail time and deportation after admitting to her participation in a tax refund fraud scheme. (Did she think there would not be serious consequences to stealing from the government?) The self-admitted fraudster, manager of a bar in downtown Minneapolis, explained to the court that she worked under the direction of a man she knew, a Florida resident, indicted in September by a federal grand jury. When asked if she knew what she was doing, she sobbed? ”I knew what I was doing. I’m sorry.’? The mother of three was not alone in the scam; she is the second to plead guilty in connection with this case.

The article reports that investigators found that the fraudster was responsible for recruiting people who set up fictitious tax preparation companies and bank accounts. According to estimates, the scam looks to have brought in around $550,000. She told officials that she assisted in the creation of a fake tax preparation business that she used as a front to submit false tax returns. She said that she obtained the names and Social Security numbers of others through a co-conspirator.

Investigators say that the crime is larger than two individuals, but the exact number of participants has not been announced. Because of her cooperation with the investigation, the courts have agreed to seek a sentence of 46 to 56 months in prison. Even so, the potential for deportation may still be an issue. Sometimes using your connections can land you in jail. You must always think before utilizing a person or opportunity; in this case, our bartender ordered herself a tall glass of jail time with a (possible) shot of deportation. Bottoms up.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Mpls. Bar Manager Pleads Guilty in Tax Refund Scam,” written by Dan Browning, published by the StarTribune.com on November 14, 2012.

A 32-year-old Liberian woman who came to America as an infant may face deportation after pleading guilty Wednesday to defrauding the government in a bogus income-tax refund scheme.

Nunziata Williams, manager of a hip-hop bar in downtown Minneapolis, admitted recruiting people who set up fictitious tax-preparation companies and bank accounts that were used to steal about $550,000 based on fraudulent tax returns. She said she acted at the direction of a Florida man named Frantz Pierre, who was indicted in September by a federal grand jury.

 

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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.