An ATM Handout

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ATMs have made life more convenient. The ease of swiping your card and receiving money on the spot takes the pain out of traveling to the bank to make a withdrawal. While the machines are helpful from a convenience standpoint, they have a habit of drawing fraudulent behavior, according to a Sun Sentinel article.

Florida is home to some of the highest rates of fraudulent behavior, and officials battling these fraud scams have their hands full. (Apparently this fraudster had his hands full as well…with money!) Although the fraud rates are high, it’s not typical for police to unexpectedly bust a fraud scam out in public, in broad daylight. But that’s what happened. Here’s how it played out. Scene? a Miami mall. Suspect? a man in his 30’s acting suspiciously at multiple in-mall ATMs. Heroes? two plain-clothed police officers working in the mall. The situation seems all too perfect, in favor of the police; so, we must ask ourselves what this fraudster was thinking. (I couldn’t begin to tell you – he obviously thought there was opportunity to be had in the middle of a public shopping facility during daytime.)

When the 30-something Florida man was caught acting suspiciously at an ATM, the two mall officers were quick to notice. According to the two police, the fraudster was spotted using several debit cards at different ATMs within the mall. (Maybe he just has a few bank accounts?)The officers followed the ATM user into the mall garage, where he tried to leave the scene in his minivan. (Shouldn’t a cool scene like this one have a hot-rod or street bike? Come on, a minivan??)The officers pursued the man, who refused to provide identification. After searching the fraudster and his car, the officers discovered 28 pre-paid debit cards worth $117,000 in tax refunds, dozens of receipts from ATMs, and $1,700 in cash. The findings, used as evidence in the case, helped the judge in sentencing the fraudster to 16 years in prison, three years of probation and restitution in the amount of $100,388. (Maybe next time he will try to hit multiple ATMs at night, when there is no one watching him in the middle of a public shopping mall.)

Perhaps it was one of those ”they won’t suspect me of being stupid enough to commit this crime in the middle of the day, in public” moments. Whatever the rationalization behind the string of ATM uses, the fraudster clearly didn’t have what it takes to be a sneaky criminal. I think this ATM handout delivered more than just cash – welcome to 16 years of prison.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Hollywood Man gets 16 Years for ID Theft and Tax Refund,” written by Wayne K. Roustan and published by the Sun Sentinel on March 7, 2013.

A 36-year-old Hollywood man was sentenced to 16 years in prison after being convicted of identity theft and tax refund fraud, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer announced Thursday.

Convicted Dec. 27, Jonathan Torres-Bonilla also was sentenced to three years probation and was ordered to pay $100,388 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, prosecutors said.

 

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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.