Family Tree of Fraud

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Sometimes there is nothing quite as enjoyable as family time. Bringing together the gang to bond and celebrate the pure joy of committing fraud together. Wait, what? While some families prefer to play sports or go to church together, others take to fraud. According to a Valley Star article, one family took to using a popular ancestry website to commit a string of tax refund frauds.

Have you ever looked back at your family tree? It is always interesting to see your family history. Even more interesting is how easy it was for one family to access the family trees of many individuals and use them to defraud the U.S. government. (So, how do we remove our family tree from the World Wide Web, just to be safe?) Testimony indicated that a mother and her two daughters used a popular ancestry website to gather personal identification information, including Social Security Numbers (SSNs), of people who were recently deceased.

The mother and daughters pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the federal government by preparing false tax returns using SSNs and personal identification information about individuals who had recently died. The family would cash the refund checks they had directed to them. (My parents taught me how to ride a bike and throw a football, not defraud the government.) So, how ambitious were these family members? According to court records, the family submitted 340 false returns and claimed $763,124. The judge sentenced the mother to 7.5 months in prison. According to the article, her poor health was a key factor in determining her sentence. In addition, the judge sentenced one daughter to 18 months in prison, and the other to 24 months in prison. Her two sons, who the article notes also played a role in the scam, are due to be sentenced in August. (Great family values at work here.)

Can you imagine what people will be talking about at their family reunion? Maybe they will all serve time at the same jail, and can still sit down for family dinners.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”La Feria Family Sentenced for Income Tax Fraud,” written by Mark Reagan and published by the Valley Star on July 17, 2013.

A woman and her daughters found guilty in a massive tax-refund fraud scheme were sentenced to prison Wednesday morning.

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen sentenced Judy Lynn McCune to 4 years, 7.5 months in prison, Loretta Ann McCune was given 18 months and Rania Ann Sanchez was sentenced to two years behind bars.

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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.